Critics' Pick

The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear (NR)

Documentary 97 December 31st, 1969
By Aaron Cutler
"If you had a machine which makes everything disappear, what would you disappear?" director Tinatin Gurchiani is heard asking in her debut film. In 2011, Gurchiani returned from abroad to her native country of Georgia intent on making a fiction film, only to discover that the faces she saw on the street were telling their own compelling tales. In this scene, she speaks from offscreen, and her words reach out to touch the young man she's addressing, who stands alone between a bare wall and her camera. He is one of 15 people who appear throughout the documentary in response to the filmmaker's casting call for Georgians ages 15 to 23 who believe that their life stories would make interesting movies. The young man responds, "I would disappear myself," even though that's the role for which he’s auditioning. The slippages and contradictions between who people are, imagine themselves to be, and present themselves as being inform the structure of Machine, a kind of loose container into which people step and out of which they extract more ideal selves. The auditions quickly become interrogations, with Gurchiani asking her subjects to articulate their goals for the future, and then challenging them to defend their desires. And then, in most cases, those desires suddenly take shape, as though a subject's act of wishing wills them to life. "If I made a film about your life, would you act in it?" she asks a stand-in. Later, she adds, "If I come with you, will you show me your life?"
Tinatin Gurchiani Tinatin Gurchiani