Home Video Hovel: The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear, by Mat Bradley-Tschirgi
Documentaries encompassing a host of subjects offer a trickier narrative than those that focus on a single subject. In The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear, first-time director Tinatin Gurchiani looks at young people in Georgia (the country that’s a former Soviet republic, not the state famous for its peaches) aged 15-25. The wide variety of subjects interviewed offer intriguing glimpses, but most are too brief to make much of an impact. At the end, one is left with a queasy mix of hope and despair as the credits roll.
Every person interviewed gets a segment where they are speaking one-on-one with the director. Shot straight on while the director asks questions off screen, it brings to mind the visual style of Errol Morris’ short-lived TV series First Person. Gurchiani lets her subjects guide the conversations, interrupting them only to clarify a point or two. There’s a young boy who dresses his father every morning, stuffing his sweatpants into his socks and spraying him down with perfume. A man in his early twenties still lives with his parents, but ekes out an income playing online poker. When asked how long he plays, he replies “All day long, with some rests, of course.” A teenager talks of how her mother left her family when she was very young. Their stories are tragic dabbed with hopeful longings for a better life.
A few of the interview subjects get a closer glimpse at their home life. The camera follows their day to day routines. While these are effective, they also bring out how much some of the other subjects get the short shrift. A tattooed young woman is asked what she would do with a machine that could make everything disappear. She pauses and answers, “Make myself disappear.” It’s a haunting segment that is sadly only touched upon.
Tinatin Gurchiani selected fascinating people to interview for The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear, but perhaps she chose a few too many. A couple of detailed looks at the lives of the Georgian youths would have proved more illuminating than the many, brief looks on display here. The Machine Which Makes Every Disappear was the Winner of the Best Director award in the World Cinema Competition in the 2013 film festival. The only extra on the DVD is a decent 15 minute interview with the director about her experiences making the film.