“What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?” director refutes curse using cinema as “modern magic”

“What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?” is a magical, realistic romance. Set in Kutaisi, Georgia, it features Lisa (Oliko Barbakadze) meeting Giorgi (Giorgi Ambroladze) outside school. (The scene is cleverly framed; only the couple’s legs and feet are shown). The couple then meet each other on the street at night and arrange to meet at a cafe the following evening. However, a curse falls on the estimable lovers, and they wake up as different people, (Ani Karseladze and Giorgi Bochorishvili). As such, they may never be able to find each other again. It’s a spell right out of Shakespeare. Or Claude Lelouche. Or even “Made in Heaven” by Alan Rudolph. And it’s charming.

Writer / director Aleksandre Koberidze examines opportunity as well as daily life in the city of Kutaisi, as long observational scenes of ordinary people flesh out the plot of whether Lisa and Giorgi will break the curse and end up together? This leisurely film features many beautiful shots that use color, light and texture, from a slow sequence of children playing football, to montages of people sitting on benches, to many scenes depicting the city’s dogs choosing which bar to watch. World Cup.

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Koberidze also includes a voiceover story that describes how once cursed, Lisa, a pharmacist, and Giorgi, a football player, lose their knowledge and talent and end up working for the owner (Vakhtang Panchulidze) of the candy store where they were supposed to meet. Subplot features two filmmakers, (played by Koberidze’s parents) looking for couples for a project, and, of course, they happen to be on Lisa and Giorgi. Will they break the spell? One must see “What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?” find out.

Koberidze spoke with Salon about his enchanting romance.

One of the things I admired about your film is how often you tell without showing. Some scenes feel right out of a silent film – characters talk, and while viewers don’t hear the conversations, they can understand what’s being discussed. How did you conceive this story and the way to tell the story?

One of the reasons for me to make genre-like films is to understand how to tell these stories, and how I can communicate what I want to say on the subject. I don’t have film theory to know how to do things; it’s more like I’m discovering something every day that I write, shoot and edit. I do have knowledge of film production, but, for me, such [organic] access works best. In this way of working we can take this form, which is a more personal way of telling the story. It’s a portrayal of people making this film, and what we thought.

Did you have specific Influences or inspiration?

One director I watched was Nanni Moretti. His film, “Tsar Diary,” was about a city and how different you can make a film like that – the fading boundary between fiction and documentary. How he builds his image, works with actors and uses a narrator. I had a narrator in every film I made, even before I watched Nanni, but after seeing his films, it was my desire to tell the film myself. This time I was brave, even though I am far from his quality.

Can you talk about the movie subplot that stands out in “What We See When We Look at the Sky”?

When I wrote, I had decided how [beat] this curse, and is there a way for the characters to find each other? Or are they completely helpless? There are not many solutions to this problem. If I woke up tomorrow in another body, I wouldn’t know what to do, who to call, or what Google. I had different ideas about this kind of magic, so I had to find some magic that still exists in this world and that everyone knows. And cinema is one of the few things that has that power. I thought cinema could be seen as a kind of modern magic, and the idea was to have one magic thing versus another magic thing.


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We often imagine what life might be like for someone else. I like that Lisa and Giorgi aren’t trying to figure out how to break the curse, but instead, just keep living, taking advantage of the best of their new situation but still trying to find the one they love. Can you talk about that decision?

The characters in the film spend time when we don’t see them. It was important that there were scenes that [do not feature] them or where we don’t know what they are doing. It is important that they seem to be in order in their situation; it’s not most of their lives when we see them, so they’re off-screen sometimes. It was not a statement. These are characters who, when they’re out there, among people, don’t create a huge drama of their private problems in a world where we have much bigger problems than not finding someone you love. I think in a lot of movies private issues become too big when they are shown to other people, and privacy is a big issue of our time and it was important to give this privacy to the characters and have characters who keep things private and not interested in sharing their private life with people they don’t know, [including] people watching the movie.

Is the film an allegory?

For me it is first an idea that is just an idea, and then it becomes: what does it mean, and how can I understand this loss? I have my personal ideas about the meaning, but it’s better to leave it open. If I say what I think, it will narrow the view. It’s like the title of the film, which is more open and not focused on one thing.

Your film is certainly quiet, with long sequences that capture the rhythms of everyday life unfolding. Can you describe your intention of these episodes and how they inform the central story?

In making this film, I tried to understand film production, but it was also a way to understand my surroundings, and where I live, and how the world works. It’s very different if you just go out and look around or if [as a director] you are watching this monitor, which gives tension to normal moments. Time goes in different ways because 40 people are behind you, waiting for you to say “cut”. For people who watch it in the cinema, time also passes differently there. It’s a focused way of looking, so it becomes a way of showing a place and how you can look at it or what I see when I look at it. For this kind of effort to understand the world, you need this time, because things are not always controlled. We tried not to block our set to see and understand what can happen in the framework.

Can you talk about your observations of human nature that are expressed in the film?

One thing is that both characters have some confidence that someday things will go the way they should. You can watch TV and know that things don’t always happen the way they should. It’s not that I want to tell someone to be quiet, and everything will be fine. But in this film, the characters have faith and somehow live up to their expectations. It’s more than a reality, it’s a fairytale world, so we can work with stories that aren’t directly part of our daily lives. But deep in my heart, I want to trust. I feel like things that happen around us make some sense. At the same time you could say that this is stupid and nonsensical because of what is happening around us, but still. . .

Your movie looks gorgeous. Can you describe how you drew the film visually and used the city and its townspeople as characters in the story?

I spent quite a bit of time in Kutaisi, and we knew we didn’t want to do a big thing from the artistic direction, or build decorations and paint walls. We tried to find places outside and inside that were there and relevant to the story. Every day, the city lives and changes. It is an old town, but there are many young people. It’s generally a pretty poor place, but people manage to live with dignity and not be completely broken. It was very interesting, and we needed time to find places that would convey the mood of our story and our feelings. We created the cafe that doesn’t exist, but when we were looking for a place where we could have the cafe, it was important to have it in a place that is open in every direction – to have a river on one side a bridge. in another, and in a small park to involve the place in our story. It was a way to have people live in space. When we told, we used pictures. So it was a very accurate job, but we tried to keep it open.

Franklin Foer wrote the book “How Football Explains the World”, and your film certainly shows how the sport is so ingrained in life In Kutaisi. Are you a fan, and what did you want to show by the emphasis of this sport?

I’m a fan, yes. I am a disappointed football player. I never became what I really wanted to be, a professional athlete. I sometimes play it with my friends, but it’s not the game I dream of, in a big stadium with 100,000 gay fans. I watch the Georgian national team and when Barcelona play – especially because Messi is there. I look at him a lot. From his first game, I followed him and his ups and downs. It’s interesting because he’s not a normal person. He is special and represents a lot, and you can learn from him how to deal with time, hardship, loss and gain. But also, it was very interesting to film people watching football because there you see great emotions. The main characters in the film don’t have a lot of big emotional moments, so you see the kids ’emotions in the slow sequence where you see great happiness or anger that isn’t tied to a big drama, but this game. which generally doesn’t matter, but at the moment is the most important thing.

Your film deals with chance and curse. What is responsible for your cunning optimism? Do you believe in such superstitions?

Yes, sometimes I’m superstitious, but not too much. I just do the same things my mom does. [Laughs] I have a feeling she knows why not put a bag on [a backpack, or a purse] on a table, or put a knife in someone’s hand. While making this film, I thought a lot about such things. There are three directions. There are times when I have to make a decision. On the other hand, I see that there are coincidences; things happen, and they change your life. I also sometimes think there’s a kind of – let’s call it a destiny, a bigger story that’s also there. These three things do not work against each other. There is one big story, and in this big story you can still make decisions and sometimes things will happen that are not planned by you or by someone who is doing the “big story”.

“What We See When We Look at the Sky” is in theaters on Friday, November 12th. Watch the trailer below via YouTube.

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