Temur Butikaschwili
Temur Butikashvili was born in 1961 in Tiflis, in the Republic of Georgia, where he currently teaches as a professor of Documentary Film Studies at the Technical University. After studying film direction in Kiev, he produced numerous feature- and documentary films for television in Georgia. Honored with many awards, his films have been screened at various international film festivals, including the 2008 Berlinale. At the “MANA-96” Television Film Festival, his feature film “Why Are You Laughing?” received the Best Television Film award. In 1995, at the same festival, his documentary film “Liturgy on Georgia in the 20th Century” was chosen.

A distinguishing characteristic of Temur Butikashvili’s work is the attention his gives to the little people, the have-nots. In his carefully composed images, the director observes their day-to-day, often melancholic stories, sometimes seasoned with a strange sense of comedy. These private dramas unfold against the backdrop of a society on the brink of radical change. Here too, time-honored traditions rub shoulders with a new lifestyle.

In the film “Secondhand Sale” (2007) a moody refrigerator is the last surviving piece of inherited inventory the protagonist still owns. The rest has already been hocked to finance his daily vodka consumption. The interested buyer does more than ignore the threatening humming noise the refrigerator makes; she even takes the poor drinker in her arms. Without this actually setting things right, it does make the situation extremely funny. By no means do the characters in this short, offbeat comedy represent an ideal beauty or behavior. Moreover, though poor and lonely, they hardly qualify as desperate. In the last scene, the protagonist, meanwhile robbed of his refrigerator, sits in the windowsill with his feet dangling over the edge. He has no intention of plunging to his death. Instead, he bellows his hunger for life into the far-reaching emptiness of this suburb, while the camera pulls back from him and the neighboring abandoned windows of the high-rise, showing the loner to be part of a huge, seed box of a concrete structure. In 2008 the film “Secondhand Sale” was screened at the short film competition of the Berlinale, where it was nominated for the “Prix UIP 08” and the DAAD short film award.

“The Return” (1994) of a father released from prison leads to confronting the decline of his family. The house is totally run-down, his son drinks, and even his wife’s grave is missing. While the father’s harsh words keep his son at a distance, what gradually shows itself is the way that two generations struggle with guilt, crime, and forgiveness. Butkashvili releases the viewer from this entanglement with gentle confidence. In 1999, at the international “Golden Knight” Film Festival in Russia, “The Return” received the Special Award of the Jury. In 1994 the film was selected for the official competition program of the Festival of International Audiovisual Programs (FIPA) in Cannes.

“The Disgrace” (1992) of a young girl, who leaves the city and flees to her family’s farmhouse, puts her family’s love to the test. The daughter’s stomach is big and round—with no husband in sight. With tremendous warmth, Butikashvili calmly portrays the conflict between tradition-honored conventions and the challenges that accompany the new social outlook. The father, who intends to send his daughter back to the city alone, changes his mind during the long ride to the station. So the family turns back. Butikashvili leaves the ending open to interpretation. Facing the darkness together, however, signals a muted optimism. Whether in the minor, casual observations such as the overcrowded waiting room or on the symbolic level, the film says a great deal about present-day Georgia. In 1992, the same year “Disgrace” was chosen as Best Short Film at the “Golden Eagle” Film Festival, it received the Special Award of the Jury at the “Molodist” Film Festival in Kiev. Later, it was selected for the official competition program of the 1994 FIPA (Festival of International Audiovisual Programs) in Cannes.

Films (Selection):
2007 Secondhand Sale (short film, Digi Beta, 25 min)
1996 Why Are You Laughing? (feature film, video)
1995 Liturgy on Georgia in the 20th Century (documentary film)
1994 Kerpi / The Return (feature film, 47 min, 16 mm)
1992 Sirtskhvili / Disgrace (short film, 29 min, 16 mm)