Below is the transcript from various conversations, which we recorded while filming Taming the Garden. The film tells about a hobby a wealthy and powerful man, Georgia’s former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, which is to collect century old large trees. He commissions his men to uproot these trees and to bring them, via land and see, to his private garden.

These conversations spoken in Mingrelian language were left outside the film either because they were recorded poorly or the images, the scenes did not fit in. Written here, they seem like an extract from a play the setting of which needs to be imagined.

Scene 1. 2 Workers sit on the roots, having a lunch break.

– It is a beautiful tree, ha?
– Sure, it’s really pretty.
– Really great. If they take it…
– Now, when they will take this, it will arrive there plucked. It will be bare without leaves, but it’s a beautiful tree…
– Will they cut the sides too?
– This will be trimmed and that will be trimmed… They said let’s cut this, that and I wonder, what will remain.
– How can it fit, man!
– In fact they cannot take it. And then that tree in Orsantia. I don’t know how they plan transporting it.
– Is it big?
– Ah! It’s twice as big as this one.
– Really?
– It belongs to the Chkholaria family. Haven’t you seen it?
– No. Is it in the courtyard, or?
– It was an ancestral tree and the family could not divide it [referring to the compensation]. They offered them 250 000 but still they did not give it away.
– And what is this tree? Is it an oak?
– Yes, it’s an oak.
– It’s magical.

Scene 2. Women stand by the road, waiting

– Did you know, that man has a tree and they say they were offering him 2 millions but he refused to sell it?
– A woman was telling me about it yesterday. That he didn’t give away the tree. It’s two centuries old.
– I wish my ancestors had planted something nice!
– There’s the apple tree… but…
– They don’t want apple trees.

Scene 3. People stand by the road, observing

– I would have never imagined this tree would walk like that.
– Come father!
– What do you want, dear!
– Look, it moves! I must follow.
– I hope it won’t fall over! We won’t even have time to run.
– Everything changed suddenly!

[Bidzina Ivanishili acquired approximately 200 trees from villagers and the state. These conversations are precious to me also because they refer to one family, who were one of the very few who refused the deal. They preferred to keep their magnificent beech tree in their yard declining any sum of money, even if their living conditions were modest. And they kept low about it, not wanting to be part of the film.]

Salomé Jashi was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 1981. She is a documentary filmmaker and a video artist. She has been attracted to filming micro environments from the very beginning of her career. Her visual approach is minimalist, poetical, sensitive and rough. Salomé Jashi’s TAMING THE GARDEN (2021) premiered at Sundance Film Festival in the World Cinema Documentary Competition and Berlinale Forum. Her previous film THE DAZZLING LIGHT OF SUNSET (2016) was awarded the Main Prize at Visions du Réel’s Regard Neuf Competition, as well as at ZagrebDox, Jihlava IDFF, FIC Valdivia and several other festivals. Her earlier work BAKHMARO (2011) was nominated for the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. All three films were produced in collaboration with Arte’s La Lucarne. She holds an MA in documentary filmmaking from Royal Holloway, University of London (2006) as well as an MA in journalism from Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (2003). Salomé Jashi was a fellow of Nipkow Scholarship in 2017 and DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program in 2020.