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On the Edge of Time: Male Domains in the Caucasus

An impressionistic glance at life in four remote locations throughout the Caucasus, Stefan Tolz's "On the Edge of Time" intrigues with its views of former Soviet territories now "forgotten" by all but their ebbing residents.

An impressionistic glance at life in four remote locations throughout the Caucasus, Stefan Tolz’s “On the Edge of Time” intrigues with its views of former Soviet territories now “forgotten” by all but their ebbing residents. Like co-lenser/editor Thomas Riedelsheimer’s concurrent S.F. Fest docu “Rivers and Tides,” this handsome-looking pic satisfies less in terms of insight or narrative, making for atravelogue best suited to arts-skewing tube slots.

Sites of focus are Ushguli, with medieval towers and potential avalanches, in Svaneti; a Dagestan town centered around Islam; a deteriorating “Oil Rocks City” of interconnected rigs on the Caspian Sea; and a once-tony resort that’s now a home for the blind on Georgia’s Black Sea coast. Poverty, industry and a variably bemused/bitter sense of the outer world’s neglect mark all, though the landscapes and populations otherwise are disparate. Tolz chooses one or two protagonists in each setting — a patriarch whose offspring have left for easier lives elsewhere, a teacher, a 30-year oil worker who is the sole female repped here — but captures only scattered poignant moments rather than building sustained interest. Regions’ larger political/cultural issues are barely touched on. Tech aspects are high-grade.

On the Edge of Time: Male Domains in the Caucasus

Germany

  • Production: An Applaus Film Media production. Produced by Stefan Tolz, Nadja Gawrisewicz. Directed by Stefan Tolz.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Thomas Riedelsheimer, Holger Schuppel, Dieter Sturmer; editors, Cordula Kramer, Riedelsheimer; music, Sean Hara, Temur Babluani, Gija Kantcheli. Reviewed at San Francisco Film Festival, April 26, 2002. Russian, Georgian and Avarian dialogue. Running time: 93 MIN.
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