Rusudan Chkonia / 2012, Venice, Abu Dhabi, Naples, Tallinn Black Nights, Tbilisi / 90'
In the televised Georgian Mothers' Content, a group of ten very different women compete for the ultimate prize of $25,000 and a family apartment. Motivations range from the reward— considered seismic for the majority of the impoverished contestants— to proxy motives of the contestants' mothers who just want to see their daughters in the limelight. What begins as glimmering extravaganza slowly reveals itself as a humiliating amateur beauty contest, in which tragic stories of war, poverty and sexual abuse are exploited for entertainment and ratings.
Georgian filmmaker Rusudan Chkonia's first feature explores pressing issues of contemporary Georgian society— the enduring scars of a post-civil war nation, economic hardship, and human desperation— through the lens of broadcast television, calling into question the ethics of entertainment itself. Keep Smiling premiered at Venice, Abu Dhabi, and Tallinn Black Nights, and was selected as the Georgian entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards.