The filmmakers behind “A Long Break,” Georgia’s official submission for the Best International Feature Oscar, shared their intensely personal connections to the film and the challenges they encountered while making it.
Writer-director Davit Pirtskhalava’s debut feature tells the story of a group of classmates who reunite at their old high school 13 years after graduating. Under the pretense of a good time, Tsitsi (Shako Mirianashvili) gathers the men together for an evening of painful memories and confrontations.
Pirtskhalava, producer Tiko Nadirashvili, and actor Giorgi Sharvashidze revealed what drew them to the project during a virtual screening of the film as part of TheWrap’s 2022-2023 Awards Season Screening Series.
Like some of his characters, the writer-director said he was a bully and got bullied as a student. “Both sides are victims,” he told moderator Steve Pond. “So the solution is not to escape [the past], rather to face it, embrace it and move forward this way and it gives you a lot of freedom.”
Sharvashidze plays Guga, the only member of the group whose personality seems to have changed since his school days. He said it “wasn’t easy to accept the role, because the story was my life.”
“What gave me strength [was that] that I realized that it would be like confession, and the regret [for] what I did in school, and I think this movie gives you an opportunity to look at your old steps and decisions,” he said. “There is always space to regret and ask your classmates or your friends for a pardon. Maybe we can see these people who [were] our victims and ask them for forgiveness, but very carefully, of course, and meet them somewhere, treat them with care and love.”
It wasn’t just the themes that hit home with the filmmakers. Nadirashvili said they shot in four different schools over the course of 25 days, mostly at night. One of the locations happened to be the old school of Pirtskhalava; another was Sharvashidze’s. Many of the crew members were former students too, strengthening their connection to the story.
Showing up to set only to find himself back in the same classrooms he sat in for 11 years struck Sharvashidze as both a “coincidence” and “a big sign.”
“I realized that it was something very special,” he recalled. “And then I realized that I had to be in this movie and we are here in this world for something.”
Similarly, Pirtskhalava described shooting at his old school as visiting “this corner of my imagination, these past situations, this class. A lot of it was very emotional and it was very tough, but also with some kind of joy.”
Watch the full interview here.