Sunday, January 20, 2013

INTERVIEW: Tinatin Gurchiani about her Film "The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear" (

( Road to Sundance 2013: The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear, directed by Tinatin Gurchiani
Tinatin Gurchiani (Photo credit: Levan Kherkheulidze)

Tell us about your film. What inspired you to make it?
My film is The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear, and it will be in the World Documentary Competition category. My inspiration was my own search to try to bridge the gap I felt between two worlds.

I lived for a long time in Europe. I studied there. When I came back, I had many ideas for fiction films. But here I noticed that the stories I wanted to tell didn’t match the people I met. You know when you look at a person you can imagine what their background is, what stories they could tell. And I had changed while in Europe, and my stories just weren’t compatible with the Georgian people anymore.

So, instead of trying to force the people to fit my stories, I thought I needed to find out these peoples, my peoples, real stories, to find out how we can come together again. I wanted to find the commonalities (universal truths), that would bridge this gap.

What do you love about your film?
What I love about this film is the people, and how they open themselves up to you completely. How ready they are to expose their basic core - their desire, despair and dreams. They act in front of the camera as in front of the court of God - just really, honest, naked, helpless and intense.  It was their one chance and they could say only the most important truths in their heart, the most essential pieces of their soul. And they try - with the help of the magic of cinema and the camera they are standing in front of - to create moments of eternity for themselves, out of their ordinary human lives.  I love this energy in our film. It is unique. I hope this film will make you happy in a strange way even if its not a happy film, but because of all those beautiful people.

How long did it take you to make your film?
This film was made in one breath, in a trance-like state by passionate people,  all of us was on the border between dreaming and perfect concentration. The reason for this was that we had very very low budget for this film. So we had to be very focused in our work. I counted that the money we had would be enough for 20 shooting days, so I tried to do the best possible in this time. The editing period was about two very intense months, without breaks or weekends. And we wrote the musical score over 5 sleepless days via Skype, because the composer was in Germany and I was in Georgia. It was like we were all together: crew, actors, myself – one organism and everything we did moved towards the completion of the film.

How did you finance your film?
We got some support from the Georgian National Filmcenter, about 20,000 USD, and a little bit of support from Goethe Institute and Robert Bosch Foundation for research. This subsidy from the Georgian National Filmcenter was the largest sum that anyone in Georgia can get for a documentary. The problem was that this money had to be spent by the end of the year, so in 6 months. It was very difficult to start with such a small sum, but we decided not to wait because films have to be made when they “burn." This means, when they are potent and passionate and not just when there is enough money. So all of us worked for many months without payment, but full of heart and enthusiasm. And then, when we had the material edited, there was a lot of interest in it and we were able to find post-production companies that were willing to help us in the post-production for free. There were so many people who they supported  us so that the film could be finished without money. Dok-Incubator, especially helped us. It is a unique documentary workshop in Europe, that supports films in the rough cut stage, in order to emphasise their international potential and help them to break into the market.

What was the most challenging part of the filmmaking process and how did you overcome it?
I worked on this film very intuitively, even irrationally--like writing a poem, but in this case I had real people with real dramas in it. It was emotionally very charged and intense. I had never been in situations like this before. The biggest challenge was staying with each protagonist a maximum of two or three days and then to go. I would become completely immersed in the most personal issues of their lives, and then we would have to go our separate ways. I became very close with these people, and had to find a way to show the truth of their stories while keeping in mind how showing this film around the world would impact their lives.

Tell us about your experience getting into Sundance
After the film was completed (only a couple of days before!), we had a national première  at DOK_Leipzig and IDFA. Many important international experts saw our film there and loved it, so they asked us to try to submit to Sundance, even though the deadline had passed. And of course they recommend the film to them as well. So we tried our luck and got the invitation.

If you had to make the film all over again, would you do anything different?
I think I would change a lot, but it doesn’t make sense to think about it--it would make me crazy and anyway it would be a different film. I've changed, the time and circumstances around me have changed and this would have a lot of influence on it. Now this film is ready and interesting and exciting for me as well. I can watch over it like a child. I raised it, but it's grown up and out in the real world. It has some qualities I hoped for, some I would preferred to be otherwise, but I can’t change them. Now I’m also like a part of audience and can emotionally react as all of you seeing this film.

What’s next for your film? Do you have distribution? If so, when and how can people see it and if not, what are your hopes for the film?
This film gets a lot of invitations every month from all around the world and I have to travel a lot. Of course, is always very exciting for me to see how the people with very different background react, to see if they laugh and cry at the same moments as I do or as audiences in my own country do.
For The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear we  already have the World Sales-Deckert Distribution, with a lot of influencing european directors of our days,  but we got also great distributor-Icarus Films-especially for North American countries. We hope a big U.S. audience will see our film.
Jonathan Miller, head of Icarus Films, said: "After such a hectic year in 2012, it's wonderful to begin 2013 with a lovely, unexpected film from a new talent, and from a land we know too little about. I think people will fall in love with the film the way we did. It may be winter, but it didn't feel that way watching Tinatin's film. We can't wait to bring it to American audiences."

For me, already new projects form in my mind and I will work on them as soon as possible. I have to take care of them. I miss the shootings, the magic atmosphere around film. I already have a screenplay written for a fiction film and I’m very excited about it. It’s a drama about a man, who decided to give everything to others but trying not to get (trying to refuse) anything back. I’m thinking about it, in which country I will realize it. And I also have 2 feature documentaries I work on.

Can you provide any advice to other filmmakers who dream of getting their films made and into Sundance?
Please fight for your film! Believe, trust in yourself and your film and try to make films, you are passionate for, you have need for. Have an individual vision and try not to make compromises--that is what I can advise people.

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