Archive of films City of the Sun / Mzis qalaqi

Georgia / USA / Qatar / Netherlands
2017, 104 min

Section: Another View
Year: 2017

A cinematic vanitas about a dying town in Georgia, a formerly vibrant centre of industry where the monotonous sound of the manganese mines has been replaced by a silence rarely interrupted. The film’s crystal-clear style, in which each shot is given the length it needs, seeks out the photogenic side of decay and explores the specific nature of the lost souls that continue to live here.


The Georgian town of Chiatura was once a vibrant centre of industry, but the monotonous sound of work in the expansive manganese mines has essentially been replaced by silence. The houses, production halls, theatres, stadiums and the unique system of public cable cars – previously the pride of the town – are now rusting and rotting away. Rampant vegetation turns buildings into ruins, completing the image of omnipresent decay. And yet people have not disappeared entirely from this place. “The only path to their world led via complete contemplation,” says director Rati Oneli in order to emphasize that a filmmaker cannot observe the lost souls living in such a place without the quietude necessary for thought. His path towards finding the photogenic side of decay involves a crystal-clear style in which each shot is given the length it needs. This cinematic vanitas about a dying city grows from within, and since it lacks a narrative arc, it is a film that is better experienced with the emotions than with the mind.

Martin Horyna

About the director

Rati Oneli

Rati Oneli (b. 1977, Tbilisi, Georgian SSR) lived in New York from 1999 to 2014 before deciding to return to Georgia to film City of the Sun. He holds a master’s degree in Middle East studies from the Free University of Tbilisi. He later studied international affairs and media studies at Columbia University in New York, and he is currently doing post-graduate work in philosophy at the European Graduate School. Invisible Spaces (Ukhilavi sivrtseebi, 2014), which he produced and edited, had its premiere in the short film competition at Cannes. His next production, Léthé (2016), was shown in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight. City of the Sun is Oneli’s feature-length directing debut.


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About the film

Color, DCP

Section: Another View
Director: Rati Oneli
Screenplay: Dea Kulumbegashvili, Rati Oneli
Dir. of Photography: Arseni Khachaturan
Editor: Ramiro Suarez
Producer: Dea Kulumbegashvili, Rati Oneli, Jim Stark
Production: Office of Film Architecture
Sales: Syndicado


Aleksandar Govedarica

Distributor, Sales Agent


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