The Northeast winds | Nikoloz Bezhanishvili | Georgia | 2022 | 94’

Synopsis (Short): Local Stalinists resist when the statue of Stalin in Gori, the dictator’s birthplace, is torn down. But immersed in nostalgia and ideology, they fail to see that the world has irrevocably changed. Synopsis (Long): “The disintegration of the Soviet Union is the greatest crime of the twentieth century.” This has been stated by Vladimir Putin on several occasions, and some residents of Gori strongly agree with him. In Stalin’s birthplace in Georgia, they dream about a return to the time when the dictator was firmly in control. These die-hard Stalinists are therefore shocked when city authorities have the statue of their hero removed. In their efforts to have it restored, they clash with another Stalinist party, which presents itself as the true guardian of Stalinism and refuses to tolerate outsiders. Scenes filmed in cinema verité style show how the ideological believers get lost in bickering among themselves as their already-diminished and aging membership dwindles even further. They wallow in nostalgia, but the world has changed. In the younger generations, no one is interested in Stalin anymore.
Director: Nikolas Bezhanishvili
Writer: Nikolas Bezanishvili
Producer: Nikolas Bezhanishvili
Participants: Makvala Shatakisvhili (self), Robinzon Estadashvili (self), Alken Lursmanashvili (self), Tengiz Kantelashvili (self).
Production company: NIKADOCFILM
Director’s statement: We all remember a few things from early childhood. However, whatever you remember, stays in your mind and will follow your life forever. I recall an argument between my mother and my grandfather. I was three then and this is the first scene from early childhood that I can reconstruct. My grandfather was angry that my mother did not let him name me Soso and my mother strongly insisted that her son should ‘not be named after a monster.’ Of course, I did not have a clue what was happening – I did not know who Soso was, or why my mother was so much against the idea. However, several years later I started to sort things out for myself. My grandfather lived in Gori. Like the majority of Gori residents, he was also a big fan of Stalin. And Stalin’s name in his youth was Soso. Then I understood why he wanted to call me Soso, especially since I was born in Gori, very close to the house where Stalin was born and spent his youth. The Soviet Union has dissolved 30 years ago, and ten years ago, when Stalin’s statue was taken down in his hometown, I went there and inquired what the attitude of people in Gori was about the fact. I discovered that despite their pro-Western views, most of them had reacted negatively to the event. In recent years, Russian propaganda has been strengthening in the post-Soviet space threatening the democratization and sovereignty of countries. It convinced me even more that the post-Soviet space never managed to fully overcome the Soviet mentality and the trauma. Russian propaganda still uses the proven Soviet policy of planting fears of freedom and diversity to isolate countries that looked to other powers. Today my grandfather is dead, and I couldn’t observe him and reflect on what his motivations were, and why he looked at Stalin only from one perspective. However, I had a chance to observe others. My film characters accepted me warmly from our very first encounter and reminded me of my grandfather. Even though they know of my different views about their leader and the Soviet rule, it surprised me greatly that they let me shoot their backstage processes, and depict their daily lives. The film’s plot mirrors that of the fate of the Soviet Union, which started with a big idea and formed into an unjust regime, which would then result in the destruction of the system. The Gori Communist Party goes through the same process, by worshipping monuments and icons it is trying to divert attention from the loss that the system, based on falsity and violent experience.
Director’s biography Nikoloz Bezhanishvili is a Tbilisi-based filmmaker. He is the author of three short feature films, seventeen short documentaries, and two full-length documentary. He has edited several documentaries as well. In 2004, Nikoloz graduated from Georgian State University of Theatre and Film, Department of Film Directing. His short fiction film „Yesterday, Today“ was screened and awarded by several film festivals. Nikoloz’s first short documentary is about the Russia-Georgia war in 2008. It is based on personal interviews and real-life stories of refugees who fled their homes during the war. In 2011, he made 16 documentary TV series „Green Ball“ about environmental issues in his country. Later, in 2015, Nikoloz produced his first full-length documentary, „Black Square,“ about female drug addicts in Georgia, supported by Open Society Institute. The film was shown and awarded at the last 15 international film festivals. „Black Square“ was a part of the International Documentary Association and American Film Showcase screening series in Los Angeles. Nikoloz produced videos for the international media (Eurasianet, Washington Post, The Guardian). His videos report on major stories from post-Soviet countries, starting from homophobic violence in Georgia to the Ukraine-Russian conflict. In 2015 he attended an intensive documentary program American Film Showcase at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) in Los Angeles. Founded by Nikoloz Bezhanishvili in 2018, NIKADOCFILM is a Georgian production company focused on various documentary genres, from observational to poetic. The company’s mission is to find a creative way and tell remarkable stories which address important issues. In 2022 Nikoloz’s future length documentary The Northeast Winds was premiered at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam- IDFA. Since 2015 Nikoloz has been a member of the International Documentary Association (IDA). Filmography: Director, producer „The story“ short fiction (2000) 10 min. Georgia Director, producer „Yesterday, Today“ short fiction (2003) 20 min. Georgia Director, producer „Two Musicians“ short fiction (2006) 20 min. Georgia Director, producer „Tent City“ short documentary (2008) 25 min. Georgia Director, producer „Green Ball“ sixteen documentary TV series (2011) Georgia Director, editor Black Square Future documentary (2015) 52 min. Georgia Director, producer Sex workers in Georgia Short documentary (2016). 10 min. Georgia Director, producer, Cinematographer Diary of Patient Short documentary (2017) 20 min. Georgia Director, producer, Cinematographer The Northeast Winds – Future documentary, (2022), 94 min. Georgia, Director, producer, Cinematographer