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New Directors/New Films Festival 'Line of Credit'

by Photo of Theodore Liggians

Salome Alexi made her way from Georgia (not the state) to NYC for the premiere of ‘Line of Credit.’

New Directors/New Films Festival 'Line of Credit'

In this article…

 

Addressing a more severe situation with a bit of comic relief, Salome Alexi's brought the subject of money and the Georgian mortgage crisis to the Film Society of Lincoln Center and MoMa's New Directors/New Films Festival in her film Line of Credit. Humbly, Alexi took the microphone and briefly expressed her appreciation for everyone that was in attendance of her debut film.

With the ever present themes of family and always being there to help, Line of Credit follows the strong-willed shopkeeper Nino (Nino Kasradze) as she finds it hard to keep her business, house and family afloat. Slowly she swims deeper into a sea of debt that puts everyone at risk of losing everything. Her story served as the small picture that is used to expose the bigger picture: the mortgage crisis that has caused 14 percent of the Georgian population to lose their homes since 2009.

A very somber topic to tackle, Alexi manages to do so with ease in this film. The organic structure of family was displayed throughout the film with Nino's efforts to pick herself up and those around her. She constantly takes out loans to pay off other loans, and in one scene she goes to borrow money and helps another friend that asks beforehand. Everyones' constant efforts to aid one another are contrasted by the secrets they think no one else knows of. Nino's family is well aware of each others' struggles but remains hushed.

The resolve of Nino is amazing but equally realistic. She does not drift through scenes with stubborn appearance, instead you only see her determination when she has to scrape up enough money by pawning jewelry, cup sets, or furniture to get by until another payment is due. Nino's stress is evident when she is confronted about another inevitable expense. When she hears the news of her creditor coming to collect back payment for the house and shop, her happiness disappears and she tries to drown her worries in multiple drinks.

You become sympathetic of Nino but also begin to feel more sympathy for everyone who was dragged into the chaos. The old professor, Leo, that brought a section of Nino's house from her father serves as Nino's antithesis. He is this "disappearing world" as Alexi later explains. He is financially secured by his daughter's work in America, whereas Nino and everyone else is financially unstable. When Nino decides to get the house consecrated it shows that she has arrived at her final effort to turn her luck around, but Leo's open objection to the ritual shows how different his world is. 

Despite what seems to be an endless descent, Nino's hope at catching a break encourages you to stay with her to the last seconds of Line of Credit.

Q&A with Salome Alexi and Jean-Louis Padis

With Line of Credit drawing to a close, cinematographer Jean-Louis Padis accompanied Alexi on stage for a tag-teamed Q&A.

The first round of questions came from Film Society official Marian Masone. Her first question concerned Padis's choice to shoot scenes of crowds walking around and his choice to use vibrant colors in Nino's shop and surroundings, while her second question asked Alexi to elaborate on the mortgage fraud for everyone.

Respectively, Padis explained that he used the shots of people and bright colors to serve as parallels to the characters. The bright colors directly reflected their personalities and the bright outlook they maintained while enduring separate but linked financial struggles together. Taking on the second question, Alexi explained that banks were and still are getting people to take loans with extremely high interest rates. No law or rule is in place to regulate creditors so they are allowed to get away with these practices.

When the Q&A was opened to the audience, someone asked if things were the same as they were in the film. Did women always serve as the sole support of the house?

Taking this question alone, Alexi came to clarify that there are plenty of women like Nino in Georgia. When the Soviet Union fell in the 90's women were forced to change occupations and provide for their family, giving them more autonomy. Men on the other hand found difficulty with employment and switching their occupation, putting them in the background. The country still remains the same with women being the head of their household.

Pinpointing a specific scene, another audience member asked about the Georgian legend of God personally assigning the land he reserved for himself to the Georgians.

Happy to speak about the legend, Alexi confessed that Georgians really do believe in that legend, and they live it everyday. Georgians believe that their land is beautiful every day that they wake up and see it. "It's kind of the way Georgians are living," she went on to mention.

When Alexi was done tackling that question, her and Padis were met by a new question concerning the idea of sincerity and shame for Nino as she struggled to provide for everyone.

Alexi started by describing how Nino would try and keep her secrets even though everyone knew. Deciding to keep silent, they are able to keep up this facade.

Stepping in to further explain everything, Padis came to say that Nino becomes ashamed when she does not have money to share. For her "money is a way to share with people," while her husband sees money as "rubber" according to him. He went on to reiterate that Nino would borrow money from one person to repay someone else.


Comments (1)
  1. Jonathan Crysler's profile

    Jonathan Crysler

    November 19th, 2016 @14:22

    Thank you for this article. I watched this film when it first premiered at the Venice Film Festival and was hoping it could find a home where my home is: New York. I was very happy to finally find it on a new streaming platfrom called Filmatique.com. How is it possible that such an important and well done movie wasn’t yet released in the US? How come no distributor decided it to show it? “Line of Credit is a fictional account of the Georgian debt crisis, and some 172,300 families who lost their homes as a result of mortgage loans between 2009 and 2013— 14% of the nation’s population. The film’s strength lies in its ability to maneuver the complexities of predatory lending, a post-Soviet society’s ignorance of financial institutions, and the pratfalls of individual consumerism with a deft, comic touch that never reveals its hand. Alexi won the Golden Lynx for Best Film at New Directors/New Films 2015 for this potent social allegory.” – Filmatique It’s an important film and I highly recommend it. Jonathan

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