Taming the Garden

Dir. Salomé Jashi, Mira Film, CORSO Film, Sakdoc Film, 2021 | 92′, Switzerland, Germany, Georgia

An anonymous, influential man in Georgia has taken up an unusual hobby – he buys up centuries-old, enormous trees from the local inhabitants of coastal villages and has them dug up and transplanted for a special collection in his private garden. In transplanting trees of such unusual dimensions the coastal landscape is destroyed, and the locals have to settle for a new and painful emptiness. This visually poetic film follows the transplantation of the trees and creates a portrait of the values of modern Georgian society, reflecting on the theme of forced migration, in which “being uprooted” becomes more than just a metaphor.

The influential man is former Georgian prime minister (2012-2013) and political “grey cardinal”, Bidzina Ivanishvili. Speaking about the filming process, the director noted that the local inhabitants were hesitant to appear in front of the camera due to fear of reprisals. By analyzing satellite images and video materials, the environmental activists who are against the tree transplants estimate that some 150 trees have been harvested. And to make way for the harvesting process, some 3,800 more trees have been felled.

In Georgian with Latvian subtitles.