Ana Kalanda (film)

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Ana Kalanda

Promotional poster for Ana Kalanda
Directed by Marianna Bajusz
Produced by
Screenplay by Marianna Bajusz
Based on Ana Kalanda
by Luka Razikashvili
Starring
Music by Tekla Biniashvili
Cinematography Bidzina Steelberg
Editing by Gulnaz Undiladze
Studio Rustavi Studio
Distributed by Paramount Pictures (Breisland)
Release date(s) August 24, 2006
(Kaspi)
November 5, 2006
(Varkana)
Running time 158 minutes
Country Varkana
Language Varkan
Budget ₭17.6 million
Box office ₭81.9 million

Ana Kalanda (Varkan: ანა კალანდა) is a 2006 Varkan biopic written and directed by Marianna Bajusz, starring Natela Svanadze as Varkan President Ana Kalanda and Kote Bokeria as Giuli Dadiani. The screenplay was highly based on the biography by Varkan historian Luka Razikashvili, and covers Kalanda's childhood to the January Revolution.

Ana Kalanda received widespread critical acclaim, with major praise directed to the acting, especially Natela Svanadze's breakthrough performance, as well as the direction and production merits.

Plot

On 10 September 1860, in Klow, Budu Shevardnadze (Anri Chichua) is elected President of Varkana by a landslide majority for the National Liberal Party. 6 year old Ana Kalanda and her father (Merab Ninidze) are in the crowd celebrating in the streets following Shevardnadze's election, listening to his victory speech. He tells her that "Gugushvili and the Radicals are done. Socialism is over." Exactly five years later, Giorgi Patsatsia (Vasil Garsevanishvili) of the Radical Party is elected president. During a visit to the Kalanda father's farm in Moldava where laborers are holding a strike, President Patsatsia clashes with Kalanda's father, who eventually caves in due to pressure and raises his employees salaries. He later tells his daughter how "Radicals don't respect farmers, and neither do the National Liberals anymore." Another five year passes and the Republican Noe Lekishvili (Levan Kochakidze) is elected president in September 1870, much to the joy of Kalanda's father. Kalanda's mother is more reserved, still believing in the National Liberals and despising hard-core conservatives among the Republicans in their commune.

In February 1871, Ana Kalanda enters university to study law in Klow. She meets Giuli Dadiani (Kote Bokeria) and they begin a friendship hinted with romance. They both join the Radical Party a few months later after attending a speech by Giorgi Patsatsia, where they meet Luka Razikashvili (Lado Gelovani). In the meantime, Dadiani publishes his first novel, Revolution in 1972, followed by the controversial Revenge in 1874. While she is studying law, Kalanda gets even more influenced by her friends and eventually joins the Socialist Party, a breakaway party formerly part of the Radical Party. After she graduates in November 1874, Kalanda travels to Kaspi with young socialists and goes to an anti-Lekishvili rally where she is invited to speak before the crowd by Socialist leader Sofiko Chiaureli (Ana Dongvani). She delivers a passionate speech about injustice and how the established capitalist ruling class is destroying Varkan society.

Kalanda becomes involved in labor strikes with the Socialist Party and is quickly imprisoned by the authorities along with several other socialist members. In the meantime, Dadiani publishes his third book, Enslaved, describing the enslavement of workers in Varkana. As a lawyer, she manages to get herself out of jail and free her comrades. She wants a general strike to rouse the workers to solidarity and lead a gun-less revolution, but the Socialists are unable to gather support from the Radicals. From 1875, she published articles about labor conditions and politics in Varkana in various left-wing newspapers, mainly in Kaspi. In response to increasing journalistic and political repression by the Lekishvili government, Kalanda organizes anti-Lekishvili demonstrations in Borjomi, calling for conscientious objection to political corruption and the refusal to obey orders. On that account, she is imprisoned for a year for "inciting to disobedience against the authorities' law and order". After being freed, she continues to publish articles. As a result of her political activities, in June 1877, Kalanda is imprisoned again for three years. During imprisonment, she is twice relocated, first to Senaki, then to Klow.

Friends including Razikashvili smuggle out and illegally publish her articles. Kalanda is freed from prison in Klow on 8 June 1880. One day later, Dadiani returns to Klow from exile. He and Kalanda found the Red Flag newspaper, campaigning against Lekishvili's reelection and demanding amnesty for all political prisoners and the abolition of capital punishment. After Lekishvili's reelection, they take part in a joint congress of independent Socialists, including industrialist and sympathizer Tamaz Chiladze (Vasil Charkviani), and various workers unions, that lead to the foundation of the Communist Party under the leadership of Kalanda on 1 January 1881. Dadiani shares with her a dream to peacefully revolutionize and transform Varkana, to which Kalanda quickly retorts: "A revolution without guns? It will never work." For several months they grow in number and become more violent, clashing with Lekishvili's regime with the help of Chiladze. This leads to the first anti-leftist bill being passed in Parliament in October 1881 outlawing not only the Communist Party but also the Socialist Party and the Radical Party. Several prominent leftists and union leaders are arrested while protesting, and Dadiani, Kalanda and Chiladze go into hiding. They ally with Socialist leader Chiaureli, and start to discuss staging an armed uprising. Large massive protests are organized by them in major cities across the country in November and December 1881. More protests follow, after the government outlaws public gatherings of more than fifty people, until January 1882.

The film ends with a shot of Klow and several gunshots are heard, marking the start of the January Revolution on 25 January 1882.

Cast

Production

Casting

For the young main characters, Bajusz made a point of casting relatively unknown actors to favor historical accuracy "which is the whole point of a biopic". Bajusz had originally planned to work with Kote Bokeria, having been impressed with Bokeria's facial expression acting, citing his "likable bad-guy feeling" and resemblance to Giuli Dadiani as justification for casting.

Keto Maraladze was cast as Ana Kalanda, but due to scheduling conflicts with AETOLIAN MOVIE, she dropped out. Other actresses who were considered for the part included Elisabed Jishkariani and Kathia Zamthris.

Initially, Bajusz believed Natela Svanadze's inexperience was not suitable for the role. She thought Svanadze lacked proper leading role experience, but Svanadze's audition changed her mind, admitting that the "expressiveness in her eyes and in her face" was "too good not to be leading material". Bajusz compares Svanadze to Kalanda, describing her as confident but one of the least radical people she knows, with the confidence and glimpses of vulnerability needed to play a growing Kalanda.

Svanadze said she didn't have a handle on Kalanda at first, which was what excited her about the role. "She was just a character I did not understand at all... She's this untouchable persona in this country and I'm supposed to portray that." Tamar Svanadze, who portrays Kalanda's mother, is also Natela Svanadze's mother in real life and a well-known actress in Varkana.

Development

The film was scripted and directed by Marianna Bajusz. The soundtrack was written by the Echian Giovanni Corigliano. The film was an entirely Varkan production with a budget estimated at ₭17.6 million, making it the most expensive film in Varkan history. The film was initially edited by director Bajusz to be "a detailed, contemplative examination of Kalanda's pre-revolutionary life". The studio opposed Bajusz's approach, preferring less contemplation and more action. One version of the film had a running time of more than three hours. The film's music entirely used pieces from Johannes Brahms' repertoire including his Clarinet Sonatas and parts of his Violin Concerto.

To prepare for the role of the young Ana Kalanda, Natela Svanadze went through six months of intense preparation. This groundwork included reading several biographies about Kalanda. Moreover, Natela Svanadze spent 14 weeks reading the works of Giuli Dadiani and Karl Marx. Svanadze told reporters "I feel a lot of responsibility. I want to do it well because of what Ana represents to Varkana. She is a fighter. She had a political consciousness that changed Varkana." According to Svanadze, the role crystallized her "own sense of duty" because Kalanda "decided to take her future in hands and change the country." In surmising the similarities between her own personal transformation and Kalanda's, Svanadze posits that "[she] was first relatively naive about politics, but learned more and became firmly radical."

Filming

The film was shot in several cities across Varkana to achieve Bajusz's goal of historical accuracy. Most scenes were shot in Klow, Kaspi and Borjomi, while many during Kalanda's childhood were shot in Moldava. Scenes involving presidents were shot at the actual Presidential Palace with President Zurab Avalishvili's approval.

Critical reception

In Varkana, the film received critical acclaim, and a standing ovation at the 2006 Kaspi Film Festival. Svanadze's performance received widespread praise, as well as Bokeria, Kochakidze, Charkviani and Dongvani. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 93% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 235 reviews, with a rating average of 8.6 out of 10. The critical consensus is: "Led by candid performances by its leads, director Marianna Bajusz delivers an authentic historical biopic, showing the humanity in these public figures."

In theaters, the film grossed ₭81,945,871 worldwide – ₭13,072,300 in Breisland and ₭71,873,571 elsewhere in Adonia. In Varkana, the film grossed a total of ₭46,489,303, making it the second highest grossing film in the country after Amelia. The film became the third-highest-grossing Varkan-language film in Breisland (behind Amelia and Taxi).