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City of the Sun

Up to 50 percent of the world’s manganese, a vital metal across the globe, used to be mined in Chiatura, in western Georgia. Today, it resembles an apocalyptic ghost town. Mzis qalaqiportrays a few of the remaining inhabitants. Music teacher Zurab dismantles ramshackle concrete buildings and sells the iron girders to make some money on the side. Archil still works in the mine but his real passion is the local amateur theatre group. Despite being malnourished, two young female athletes still train stoically for the next Olympic Games.
In his documentary debut, director Rati Oneli provides fascinating insights into a living environment whose bleak industrial ruins appear at once colossal and like a film set. A jumble of clapped out electric wires and aging cable cars runs through the city like the clogged-up arteries of an ailing organism that resists the flow of life in untiring fashion. Mzis qalaqi brings home the ephemeral nature of utopias. In a city where the sun never shines, it’s only the inhabitants that generate warmth. Oneli succeeds in achieving far more than the mining companies are capable of: His camera brings that most valuable of resources to the surface – humanity.
English subtitle: 


Information for the Audience: 

Chiatura is a city in Western Georgia. There was a time when it was responsible for supplying 50% of the world's manganese and at its peak, the mine employed up to 10,000 workers. Today, with drastically reduced manganese production, dangerous working conditions and little prospect for any improvement, it is well on its way to becoming a ghost town.

The city was founded by Georgian poets and aristocrats in the 19th century but was turned into a center of industry by the Soviet regime. For the Soviets, it was the embodiment of a bright, utopian future. American billionaire Harriman made huge investments and lived there; theaters, universities, concert halls, stadiums and parks were built, along with the first and largest public aerial cable-car transportation system in the world. Chiatura was a human and technological experiment on a grand scale that ultimately failed. 


Screenings / Awards: 

World Premiere – Berlinale Forum

Directed by: 
Rati Oneli
Writing credits: 
Dea Kulumbegashvili, Rati Oneli
Produced by: 
Dea Kulumbegashvili, Rati Oneli, Jim Stark
Cinematography by: 
Film Editing by: 
Release Date: 
Friday, February 10, 2017
Official sites:
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