The Inguri River forms a natural border dividing Georgia from Abkhazia. One of the spring floods has created a little island in the middle of the river, as if made for the cultivation of corn. At least, this is the belief of an old peasant, whose sunburned face resembles the landscape he has trodden for dozens of years. In his long-awaited new movie, the Georgian filmmaker finds a quiet companion in the old man, who carries out his work silently and with almost ritual deliberation; Ovashvili moves fluidly around his subjects, allowing Elemer Ragalyi’s camera to perform pure magic. Betraying an eye for scenic composition and practically without the use of dialogue, the director pieces together a crystal clear drama of the bond between man and nature. The captivating imagery is complemented by the protagonists’ intense expressions, which reflect apprehension the moment a border patrol boat approaches the island. Capturing the characters’ daily toil and minimal interaction in a fashion all its own, this psychological drama achieves a symbolic timelessness.
- Grand Prix, Ecumenical Jury Award - Karlovy Vary IFF
- FIPRESCI Award, Audience Award - Panorama of European Cinema Festival
- Special Mention - IFF Tofifest
- Golden Antigone, Critics’ Award, Filmgoers’ Award, JAM award for best music - CINEMED
- Audience Award – Cottbus FF
- Audience Award - Cinessonne Festival of European Cinema
- HP Bridging the Borders Award - Palm Springs IFF
- Audience Award - Fribourg IFF
- Best Feature Narrative, Drama - Cinequest FF
- Ilyas Salman
- Mariam Buturishvili
- Irakli Samushia
- Tamer levent
- Nugzar Shataidze
- George Ovashvili
- Roelof Jan Minneboo
- Elemér Ragályi
- Sun-Min Kim
- Josef Bardanashvili
The entire film takes place in the middle of a river, on a little island, which has been created by the spring inundation. The island itself is one of the main characters in the film, together with an old man and his 16 year-old granddaughter. During the whole season, the two have been working hard to produce a good corn harvest on the small but fertile piece of land. Two rival parties have occupied both banks of the river, but the land, created by the river, belongs only to the river itself, and what it has created in spring, it ruins and washes away in autumn. The worldly old man is perfectly aware of nature’s ways, and tries hard to outrun nature and save his harvest. I perceive the story as a sort of mini model of life that starting from the creation, moving through life and death. Notwithstanding the fact that the location, time and situation are certain, still the film is particularly elemental and will be entirely free from any social and political motives. The characters are solitary and introverted people. They have to spend most of their lives in a struggle for existence. The old man is already a relic – he tries rigorously to maintain his rules, which he developed on his own many years ago. The girl is the future; she guesses that there is something else in the world apart from ‘The Corn Island’. The narration is predominantly visual. Dialogue is minimalistic. What we see is this tiny and impressive corn island in the middle of the river; the fluctuations of nature – three seasons: spring, summer and autumn; breathtaking landscapes, light, distinct colours; bound together through balanced, academic narration. It is, most importantly, a universal human story told in a universal environment.
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An astonishing feat of cinema presented with the utmost modesty...
A master class in emotionally charged minimalism...
Ovashvili’s film manages to come up surprisingly coherent and homogenous, completely under his control in its every aspect.
Unveiled at Karlovy Vary, Corn Island has risen straight to the top as the jewel in the crown of the Official Competition.
Corn Island has risen straight to the top as the jewel in the crown of the [Karlovy Vary] Official Competition
Corn Island is delivered with incomprehensible ease, as beautiful and deliberate as the landscape it inhabits.
Captivating visuals, delicate musical score, dramaturgically compelling storyline and interest in social issues make Corn Island a unique and memorable piece..
Nowadays it’s mainly seen as problematic but working with 35mm gives me more faith in myself.
George Ovashvili is a Georgian director, writer and producer. He is a graduate from the film department of the Georgian State Institute of Cinema and Theatre (1996) and the course of filmmaking of The New York Film Academy of Universal Studio in Hollywood (2006). He made his debut with two short films Wagonnet (1997) and Eye Level (2005). His first feature film, THE OTHER BANK (2009) premiered in Generation at the Berlin International Film Festival 2009 and won over 50 international prizes. His second feature CORN ISLAND (2014) won the Crystal Globe at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 2014 and was shortlisted for the Academy Awards’s best foreign language film in 2015. KHIBULA (2017) ended the trilogy of long features, dedicated to the recent history of director’s home country. Film premiered in the main competition of Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 2017. BEAUTIFUL HELEN (2020) was selected at the Sofia Meetings 2020.