Taming the Garden
Directed by Salomé Jashi
$12 / $8 Speed members
“Surreal, serene, and maybe just a little bit sacred.”—Jessica Klang, Variety
Director Salomè Jashi’s visually beguiling documentary questions who is allowed to have access to nature—especially old-growth trees when money is scarce.
The opening shot of this striking environmental tale captures a tree as tall as a 15-story building floating on a barge across the vast Black Sea. Its destination lies within a garden countless miles away, privately owned by a wealthy and anonymous man whose passion resides in the removal, and subsequent replanting, of foreign trees into his own man-made Eden.
With an astonishing cinematic style, Taming the Garden tracks the surreal uprooting of ancient trees from their Georgian locales. 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 has assumed an immovable monolith of their town’s collective history and memory. With a steady and shrewdly observant eye, Jashi documents a single man’s power over Earth’s natural gardens: how majestic living artifacts of a country’s identity can so effortlessly become uprooted by individuals with no connection to the nature they now claim as their own. A selection of the Sundance Film Festival. 2021, Switzerland/Germany/Georgia, in Georgian with English subtitles, 92 minutes. Recommended for 12+.