The Domino Effect to boost the prestige of Abkhazia

After the films in the Documentaries from Around the World collection Mama Africa, about South African singer Miriam Makeba, My Way to Olympia, about the disabled athletes preparing for the Paralympic Games, and Harbour of Hope, about the Holocaust survivors who landed in the Swedish port of Malmö, The Domino Effect introduces us to the virtually unknown state of Abkhazia, through the personal and professional life of its Sports Minister, Rafael, a former rebel military chief.

The documentary, filmed in 2011, takes place in Sukhumi, a decrepit resort on the Black Sea coast and the capital of Abkhazia, a region of 215,000 inhabitants that broke away from Georgia in 1992 and is controlled by Russia.

Despite the incessant power cuts, the abandoned buildings, the lack of talented national athletes and the small amount of Abkhazian interest in organised sporting events, Sports Minister Rafael decided to host the World Domino Championships there, in an attempt to restore some semblance of prestige to his country, which was little known by the rest of the world (and recognised at the time by only six states). Practising the national anthem, holding press conferences and carrying out other preparations succeeded in properly accommodating the national delegates, despite the limited resources of the country.

In this tragicomic, and sometimes ironic, fiction-style documentary, Polish directors Piotr Rosolowski and Elwira Niewiera also focus on the private life of Rafael and his young, pregnant wife, Natasha, who left Russia and her daughter from her first marriage in order to live with the Abkhazian Minister. Isolated, ignored by the locals and her in-laws, and sometimes misunderstood by her husband, Natasha fails to keep up her passion – opera – in her adopted country. She had represented Russia in several international competitions.

Just like this couple, Abkhazia seeks to find a balance. The Domino Effect presents a mirroring of the family conflicts and the political reality of a small country, sometimes bordering on the absurd, where it is difficult to imagine that this above-average couple, living in an apartment lacking charm, are supposed to be one of the most important couples of the young state.

Awarded at the 2014 Krakow Film Festival, at the 2014 DOK Leipzig Festival and at the Budapest International Documentary Festival in 2014, The Domino Effect was also nominated at the 2015 Polish Film Awards.  A film to enjoy since 15 May in Spain, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Great Britain, Belgium and Ireland.

woensdag 17 juni 2015, van Cineuropa

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