Oct 13, 2015

Paraskeva and Sidonia: two candles on the same patch of sky

What resemblance is between Saint Sidonia from Mtskheta (Georgia) and Saint Paraskeva from Iasi (Romania), two pious virgins celebrated on the same day, October 14? Two holly brides: one was giving her rich clothes to the poor, thus bestowing them to Christ, the other received from Christ the most precious garment - His shirt, brought to Mtskheta by her brother, rabbi Eleazar -, which served to her as well as a burial and a wedding cloth. What is the link between the column of light seen in the fourth century over  Sidonia's tomb, after cutting the secular cedar that had risen from her grave, over which the famous Svetitskhoveli cathedral was build, and the mantle of light with which Paraskevi was seen protecting Iassi - as survivors remember - during the WW2 bombings? What binds together the two equally discrete virgins, both equally rushed passing the threshold of earthly life, but equally spectacular in their heavenly destiny, whose glory is ceaselessly growing and will continue to grow? The relics of one have wandered across the whole Balkan Eastern Christendom (from Epivat to Trnovo, Belgrade, Constantinople and Iasi), of the other were sealed until the end of time under the slabs of Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, to expect there the bridal coming of Christ on earth, Parusia. Two columns of light, two maidens clothed in Christ, united by the same great love.

Oct 7, 2015

”An Erotics of the Book” - Elena Dulgheru's graphics exhibition in Tinos (Greece)

Held in the frames of the International Writers' Congress in Tinos (Cyclades, Greece), September 17-23, 2015.
Official opening on September 19, 19.30, Tinion Hall. The exhibition was presented by the art historian and film theorist Prof. Dmitri Salynski and by the author.

Founding word
More than we can imagine, books determine our existence. Even when we stop reading them. They determine our existence, the existence of our neighbors, of our descendants, the existence of history. 
Essentially, books are an expression of love. Like utterance, even more than utterance. An expression of love, made to last even after love extinguishes or conceals.
That's how books give birth to memory, memory which is always able to reconvert into love. True books are seeds of this love: Logos spermatikos. From the sacred books of the Scripture, inscribed by the seed of the Divine Word, to the founding books of the peoples, with their songs of mourning and joy, recorded into the collective memory, and afterwards in more recent books, and up to the love letters of lovers, who are also participating, by their gestures of love and childbirth, to the construction of history; who are also writers, by the love deeds, of the great Book of Life.
This exhibition gravitates around the Book of Life, in a broad sense, as a mystery of writing and living within the Word. From the Christian sense of the great book of Salvation, to the Borgesian sense of the books that are keeping the memory of the world, and up to the apparently anodyne meanings of "the books of our personal lives", that we are also trying to inscribe, as far as we concent about eternity, into the great Book of Redemption.
The Supreme writer, He who founded the Book of Life and is always refreshes it, can not be represented through images. But the loving gesture of the divine writing into our lives is discovered in every love story that had become a legend, in each new writing and transmitting of the words of wisdom, of the revealed and revealing word. Snapshots of these acts of writing, made in solitude or in synergetic couples - as unwitnessed hierogamies - snapshots of sacred or legendary love stories and converted to other acts of writing, have been recorded by the drawings of this exhibition.
An important role in transmitting formative texts have always had minstrels; in ancient languages, their names were synonymous with that of lover or pilgrim. A journey from one story to another, endless as the Book of Life, are the "1001 Nights", one of the themes of this exhibition. Therefore, in the East, the paradigmatic model of the narrator is a woman: Scheherazade. A female-healer, redeeming the curse of her gender, but also the Sultan of his killing anger, Scheherazade brings the taming through storytelling, without abandoning her beauty and feminine charisma. An Athens of the East, her image consistently and reverberating marks the exhibition.
Europe is also an outgrowth of writing. Of the interweaving of Aryan, Semitic and Christian destinies, developed in a multimillenary story, written by man and God, that we would like to be endless. A story, whose sunset we have been warned long ago and today we fear more than ever.
This exhibition is also dedicated to Europe, to Christian, blessed by God Europe, that we do not want to lose. In the same way as to Scheherazade, with her "1001 Nights" and her weddings, which is are nothing but a mythical image of the great Book of Life and of man with God transfiguring wedding.

Elena Dulgheru

List of works
  1. Woman singing under a bell
  2. Woman playing a keyboard instrument
  3. Writing woman (the first letters)
  4. Writing woman dressed into a snail
  5. Writing woman
  6. Woman writing a newspaper page
  7. Text - writing
  8. A hand like the pen of a ready writer
  9. A theme ot the book - I
  10. Book being writtten
  11. Semito-European Psaltery
  12. Autumn letter
  13. Cooking book
  14. European book
  15. A theme of the book - II
  16. A theme of the book - II
  17. 1001 Nights - I
  18. 1001 Nights - II
  19. 1001 Nights - III
  20. Alice in the library
  21. Scheherazade asleep
  22. A theme of writing - Scheherazade
  23. A theme of story-telling - Scheherazade
  24. A primordial book - I
  25. A primordial book - II
  26. Erotics - a page from the Book of the Books - I
  27. Erotics - a page from the Book of the Books - II
  28. Erotics - a page from the Book of the Books - III
  29. The grass
  30. L' érotique des livres
  31. An erotics of the book
  32. Genesis book - I
  33. Genesis book - II

Aug 5, 2015

The "Golden Apricot" and its Gifts

Report from the 12th ”Golden Apricot” International Film Festival, Yerevan, July 12-19 2015, published on the FIPRESCI official site

The most important film event of the Caucasian region, the Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival has become, from year to year, not only a centre of Armenian cinema, but also a meeting place for the cinema markets of the Eurasian countries from the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union. Sharing a similar recent history, these film industries, even though they have different identities, have a number of common approaches both to the art of cinema and to major values of humankind. Some common human typologies and common ideals seem to be founded in their past.
In front of ”Moskva” Cinema Hall, the centre of the Festival
The selection proposed by the organizers of the 12th edition of the Golden Apricot for consideration by the FIPRESCI and Ecumenical juries was composed mostly of films belonging to the non-competitive programme "Films Across Borders" (seven films), from the International Competition (two films) and from the "Armenian Panorama" (one film). Although they belonged to different sections, all ten films reveal aspects of a common sensitivity and vision of the world, and together they somehow complete the puzzle of a unique picture, specific to the spirit of the Golden Apricot.
Films dealing with actual social problems typical of the countries they come from, such as Ben Zaken, Corn Island (Simindis kundzuli) and Line of Credit (Kreditis limiti), films reconsidering the recent historical past, such as Moskvich, My Love ("Moskvich", im ser), Pioneer Heroes (Pionery-geroi) and Snow Pirates (Kar korsanlari), but also films treating such eternal themes as childhood and friendship (Sivas), the struggle for inner maturation in a patriarchal world (40 Days of Silence (Chilla)), the confrontation between city and countryside (The Move (Pereezd)) and that between teacher and pupil, portrayed as a dangerous and destructive love story (The Clinch (Klinch)), form a collective, multinational cinematic portrait whose common ideals are the search for beauty and harmony and the belief in authentic human values, which secular civilization is about to totally lose.
The way they are approaching and treating these themes determines the value of the movies. And even with the limited selection we were invited to evaluate there were quite a few good films that deserve to be recognised by juries and to be seen by a larger public.
Reception at Echimiadzin. In foreground: Harutyun Khachatryan, general director of the festival, ans His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians
The most engrossing films that found favour with all members of the international film critics jury, but in the end did not get the prize, were Sivas, Snow Pirates and Corn Island. The first two, whose action takes place in the provinces of Turkey, explore with tenderness the universe of childhood, a universe based on friendship and the struggle for survival at a time of deep economic crisis (Snow Pirates) and on the relationship between children and animals (Sivas). Similarly, the struggle for survival of peasants in the turbulent period of the Georgian-Abkhazian war is the theme of the multi-international production directed by George Ovashvili, Corn Island, which had previously received a FIPRESCI Prize and a lot of other important awards.
The nostalgia for the former Soviet Union, or, more precisely, the desolate and tragicomical lament of the citizens of a no longer existing empire where each one knew his place in society, is the common theme of the films Pioneers Heroes and Moskvich, My Love. This latter polyphonic social and human panorama, masterfully staged, makes Aram Shahbazyan's film one of the discoveries of the festival.
A Russian theme also resonates in the directing debut of the prominent actor Sergei Puskepalis, The Clinch. The film reveals the extreme polarization of Russian society between the rebellious criminal youth and the middle-aged intelligentsia, in other words between the so-called "New Russians" and "homo sovieticus" – two different kinds of misfits; the school, which reunites them formally, cannot overcome the huge gap between them, leading to tragicomical confrontations. The film starts on a solid basis, but gradually dissolves into an overloaded and poorly controlled narrative.
Another social theme of failed adaptation is reflected in the excellent Israeli film Ben Zaken, directed by Efrat Corem, an almost minimalist family drama about the incapacity for love and tolerance of people with broken lives that had been subject to the loss of a member of their families; without resorting to political or ideological commentary, the film discreetly reveals the long-term and painful consequences of the Israeli war.
The Georgian multiple co-production Line of Credit, directed by Salome Alexi, another feature film debutante, also deals with a dramatic social topic. In a kind of social report, the film explores the story of a woman who loses the ancestral house of her family as a result of a vicious circle of credit debts she incurs while trying to survive the economical transition of her country.
The remaining two films, The Move and 40 Days of Silence, transport us into the contemplative universe of Central Asia, with its breath-taking mountainous landscapes and eternal stillness. Both filmmakers, Marat Sarulu and Saodat Ismailova, lead us into introspective worlds in which humans come to know themselves and strengthen their characters by descending into speechlessness and meditation, and in the latter case into a vow of silence.