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SYNOPSIS: During the war in Georgia, an Estonian man Ivo (Lembit Ulfsak) has stayed behind to help harvest his neighbour's (Elmo Nuganen) crops of tangerines. In a bloody conflict at his door, a wounded man is left behind, and Ivo takes him in.

Review by Louise Keller:
Humanity is the theme of this Oscar nominated drama in which an old Estonian man opens his home and heart to two rival 'children of death'- a Chechen mercenary and a Georgian soldier. Set in 1992 during the civil war, the action of Zaza Urushadze's film takes place on a tangerine orchard. The gunshots and explosions form the backdrop to the story; it is the relationships that form the action and that are of the utmost importance. It's a beautifully crafted film that depicts the futility of war and the fine line that separates barbaric and humanitarian actions.

In the opening sequence we meet Ivo (Lembit Ulfsak) as he makes wooden crates in his modest factory in an Estonian village. The crates are for the tangerine crop growing in the orchard nearby by his friend Margus (Elmo NŸganen); they have remained behind to harvest the annual crop. It is telling that the two Chechen mercenaries who drive by ask whether he is creating crates for bombs. Soon the results of the fighting between the Georgian and Chechen forces breaks out, resulting in dead bodies and two survivors: Ahmed (Giorgi Nakashidze), a Chechen mercenary and Nika (Mikhail Meskhi), a Georgian soldier.

It is with compassion and care that Ivo looks after the two injured men, with the help of Margus and the local doctor (Raivo Trass). The men are bitter enemies who swear to kill each other as soon as they have recovered. When Ahmed vows to revenge his dead colleague, Ivo tells him he will have to kill him first.

Some of the best scenes are those that show the interactions between the two injured men as they are nursed to health, living in the same small house. At first the hatred between them is palpable. From the outset, Ivo sets the ground rules - there is to be no killing in his home. Can he trust them? Can he leave the door unlocked? Can he tell them where the guns are hidden? He also makes the point that his word is everything and demands the same of the two men. There is beauty in the way the initial violent reactions are replaced by a quiet understand as they talk about food, music and religion. Humanity creeps in.

Finally the moment comes when both men have a gun in their hands. What happens next is both unexpected and moving. Meanwhile, there's simplicity and sameness about the music theme, which plays a repetition that could well echo the merry-go-round of war. It's understated - just like everything in Urushadze's film, that delivers a sobering but hopeful message as the final exposition takes place. The grey skies and unexceptional landscape blend beautifully with the themes. Hope is a wonderful thing.

The film has won much acclaim, including the Audience Award at the 2013 Warsaw International Film Festival.

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(Estonia/Georgia, 2013)


CAST: Lembit Ulfsak, Elmo NŸganen, Giorgi Nakashidze


DIRECTOR: Zaza Urushadze

SCRIPT: Zaza Urushadze


EDITOR: Alexander Kuranov

MUSIC: Niaz Diasamidze

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Iraki Mchedlidze, Tea Telia

RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes



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