The directorial debut of Russian-born artist and writer Juja Dobrachkous, Bebia is an expressionist drama seamlessly weaving contemporary Georgian mythology with the ancient myth of Ariadne and the Minotaur. Premiered internationally at the 2021 Rotterdam Film Festival, Bebia’s Russian premiere will run at Garage Screen, followed by a Q&A with the director.
Returning from Europe to her home village in Georgia for her grandmother’s funeral, 17-year-old model Ariadna receives a cold welcome from her mother and an odd order from one of her relatives. As the youngest family member, Ariadna must perform a memorial ceremony by stretching a thread from the bed of bebia (Georgian for “grandmother”) in the city hospital to the coffin in the village so that her grandmother’s soul follows the body. Ariadna reluctantly agrees and sets off on a long journey, accompanied by the mysterious young man Temo.
Like other noteworthy festival films shot in Georgia recently, such as Levan Akin’s And Then We Danced (2019) and Dea Kulumbegashvili’s Beginning (2020), to name a few, Bebia examines a dysfunctional family. Dobrachkous’s picture stands out piercingly, however, owing to its textured black and white visuals, reminiscent of Lav Diaz’s late works. Ariadna and Temo’s grueling hike through the wilderness of the highlands, the core of Bebia’s narrative, is transformed by cinematographer Veronika Solovyeva into a series of incredibly breathtaking landscapes reflecting the younger relative’s personal initiation after the elder’s death. The action is interspersed with flashbacks—the protagonist’s recollections of childhood and her distant, hostile grandmother, as well as scenes of mourning, feasts, and smoke breaks, shot in a semi-documentary manner. There is a vague magical realism inherently tied with nature in this film, where a family ritual becomes a way of liberation for the unstable young heroine.
The film will be screened in Georgian and Russian with Russian subtitles.
Bebia, à mon seul désir
Dir. Juja Dobrachkous
Georgia, UK, 2021. 118 min. 16+