With every minute, hour, day and week that goes by, the richest and most powerful people in the world simply just get richer and more powerful. Whilst the poor just get poorer. This polarisation grows exponentially, year on year. Money breeds money and with it a seemingly unlimited ability to do whatever you like. The more corrupt and undemocratic the country, the more this seems to be the case. Many governments turn a blind eye as long as these billionaires stay out of politics.
In Georgia, something very strange is occurring. The most powerful man, who remains a major political figure, has taken up an unlikely hobby. His employees scour the coast to find ancient trees, some as tall as a 15-story building, and transport them to his private garden. Not only are they stripping the natural landscape, they’re cutting down other trees, building roads and disrupting local communities. Taming the Garden documents this bizarre business.
Director Salomé Jashi approaches this subject matter from an unusual angle. Filmed over a period of two years, Taming the Garden quietly follows this process, tracking the journey of these trees and observing and listening to the impact on villagers. Given the profile of the uprooter, caution dictates a less than direct approach. This affords Taming the Garden a cinematic feel as we silently witness this odd tableau. The camera patiently documents, unable to quite fathom what it is seeing.
Taming the Garden screens at Sundance Film Festival.