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Nino Basilia • Director

"I want to show the bravery of women"

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- We caught up with Georgian director Nino Basilia to talk about Anna's Life, her debut fictional feature, which won the Silver Atlas at the Arras Film Festival

Nino Basilia • Director
(© Cinema Jove)

With a background in documentary film, Georgian director Nino Basilia makes her first foray into fictional feature-length film with Anna's Life [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Nino Basilia
film profile
]
. Following on from her victory at the Cinema Jove Festival in Valencia, she has just taken home the Silver Atlas for Best Director at the 17th Arras Film Festival, where she also presented her next project, Child, as part of the professional development aid section Arras Days (see news article).

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Cineuropa: What made you move from documentary to fictional film with Anna's Life?
Nino Basilia: Making documentaries helped me gain a lot of experience in making films. But my film studies were centered around fiction, and I have always wanted to make a fictional feature, one with real content, not a commercial film. I leant instinctively towards social drama, naturalism, people’s feelings and their perception of situations. I also want to make films with a message. For example, Anna’s son is autistic, and some people who have seen the film have told me that it made them realise just how difficult things are for people in this situation, and made them want to donate to help mothers like Anna in real life. If my film manages to reach and change people ever so slightly, to change the way they see human relationships, to act as a sort of catharsis, I’ll take that as a personal victory. Anna’s life is also representative of that of a lot of divorced women, who are left to raise their children alone when the fathers lose interest: their daily lives are hard, and were even harder in the 90s in Georgia. Moreover, the character of Anna is very much like myself. Even though I haven’t had the same jobs as her, I understand exactly how she feels, how it feels to not have any money, nothing to eat the next day, to be in a hopeless situation. But although she allows herself to wallow for a few days, she then snaps out of it and fights, she takes action. 

The American dream, the dream of getting a visa, lies at the heart of the film.
It’s a dream that has come true for a lot of Georgians, particularly women, a lot of whom had qualifications of some sort. When Georgia became independent and capitalism took over the country, everything was torn apart, which is why women started wanting to find an easier way of surviving: fleeing the country by legal or illegal means, going where they could have a decent salary, money that they could send to their families back in Georgia. As a result, a lot of children of the new generations grew up without their mothers, and only have a relationship with them via Skype. The women who left for the United States became illegal immigrants after a few months of being there, and now they can’t come back. I also chose this subject because I think that in some situations, women are a lot stronger than men.

The pressure of money is a theme that runs through the entire film.
It really is a main character in the film, with a literally physical presence, if you think of the banknotes being counted and recounted in the car for example. And all the events in the film revolve around money. But for Anna, money isn’t really important, and she refuses to sell her body for it, as she still has her dignity. But she’s only human like the rest of us, and does experience moments of hesitation, like when she is presented with the opportunity of easily stealing a large sum of money. 

The film is very realistic, but it also has a lot of suspense.
Having a story to tell is all well and good, but it’s a lot better to have one that viewers will find interesting. It’s a good tip to bear in mind. I spend a long time thinking about the screenplay and when I write, I visualise everything. I’m also very meticulous when it comes to location scouting, as I don’t like anything artificial or false. For example, we filmed in rented accommodation where people really live, and I insisted on not moving anything, on keeping this world intact and exactly as we found it. 

You also pitched your next project, Child, here at Arras.
My aim is to put together a trilogy with women as the main characters. Anna's Life is a drama about a woman who fights in society, Child will centre around women at war, and the third film, which I’ve already written the screenplay for, will focus on women and love, with all the complications that go with it. I want to show the bravery of women.

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(Translated from French)

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