Big World Pictures has taken distribution rights in U.S. and Canada to Salomé Jashi’s documentary “Taming the Garden,” which competed at the Sundance Film Festival, and also played in the Forum section of the Berlinale. World sales are being handled by Toronto-based Syndicado Film Sales.
In her review for Variety, Jessica Kiang described the film as “quietly magnificent and strange,” adding that it is “surreal, serene and maybe just a little bit sacred.”
The opening shot of this environmental tale captures a tree as tall as a 15-story building floating on a barge across the Black Sea. Its destination lies within a garden countless miles away, privately owned by a wealthy man whose passion resides in the removal, and subsequent replanting, of trees into his own man-made Eden.
With striking cinematic style, the film tracks the surreal uprooting of ancient trees from their locales in the Republic of Georgia. With each removal, tensions flare between workers and villagers. Some see financial incentives – new roads, handsome fees – while others angrily mourn the loss of what was assumed an immovable monolith of their town’s collective history and memory.
In a statement, the director said: “To me, the film does not have a one-dimensional line as to what it is about. The material spoke of many different aspects of life, which found symbolic expressions in the film, such as the idea of manhood, or forced migration, or uprooting, which is not just a physical process.
“I also relate the theme of uprooting to my country, where values and a sense of stability is constantly floating. I see the film as an evocative journey into a surreal world, which paradoxically is also factbased.”