Taming the Garden

Switzerland, Germany, Georgia - 2021 - Salomé Jashi - 92 min

In a scene that is as sad as it is absurd, we see a woman watch, sobbing, as an ancient tree is driven by truck, roots and all, out of her village. The immensely wealthy former prime minister of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili, is developing a private botanical garden full of ancient trees that he has had dragged in from all over the country. In using his power and money to enrich his own life, he is taking away the soul and oxygen from an all but powerless population. Under false pretenses, these mythical giants are being uprooted for a mere pittance, leaving in their wake enormous craters, road congestion, train delays and the destruction of property, local nature, or even the trees themselves. The journey that follows, over land and sea, is documented in elegant static shots, intercut with scenes in which workers discuss their perspectives about this bizarre job, and villagers struggle to contain their frustration and rage. One or two still harbor the hope that Ivanishvili will come through on his promises. Although the film’s director Salomé Jashi refrains from comment, the political statement is crystal clear.


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