Toronto International Film Festival 2018
‘A NEW YEAR / AKHALI TSELI’
When a man decides to follow his faith, his family faces a crisis at a time of year usually filled with hope.
Sensitively wrought and exquisitely performed, George Sikharulidze's drama reveals the impact of a choice that will change many lives.
Hey George, thanks for talking to TNC, this is going to be your World Premiere, are there any nerves ahead of the screening?
It’s always difficult to watch your film with an audience.
Tell me a little bit about A New Year, how did the film come about?
I was writing my first feature Panopticon, and a scene emerged out of nowhere. Upon further investigation, I realized that I had connected to a story from my childhood. I continued to unpack it and started writing the script. It connects to a story that is partly personal and partly about something that happened to my classmate when we were 14.
What was the inspiration behind your screenplay?
Her father had gone to the monastery and I guess this story stuck with me for 16 years.
What has been the most challenging part of making this film been?
I think shooting the subway scene because it’s all real, we did it guerrilla style. It was fun but difficult as I suddenly found myself having to direct not just my actors, but frustrated, yet curious commuters.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
No. I wanted to be a musician and when that fell through, I figured I could make films and also throw music in them. Funnily, I haven’t used any music in this film.
What was the first film you saw that inspired you to become a director?
The 400 Blows. What actually went through my head is hazy because of an overwhelming emotional response to the film, which I still always have when I see it.
How much has your approach to writing and directing changed since your debut film?
It’s not something I have thought about. I just spend some time with the story and characters and I guess that’s what dictates the approach.
How would you describe A New Year in three words?
Unhappy New Year? I don’t know, I’m not good at these.
"...that fell through, I figured I could make films and also throw music in them."
Do you have any advice or tips for any fellow writer/directors?
It feels odd to even think about it because I’m trying to figure it out myself. Every film is a learning lesson.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this film?
I hope they appreciate the beautiful performances of the actors and the work of the DP and production designer and all of the rest of the crew who made it all possible. I wasn’t making this film with any intentions for people to take things away from it, meaning that I was more carried away with the questions that I wanted to explore and I guess I hope that these questions resonate.