City Paper is not for tourists
The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear is a challenging documentary with modest rewards. Director Tinatin Gurchiani heads to a city in Georgia (the country, not the state) where she interviews various young people under the guise of a casting call. Her methods are plain and direct: She films her subjects in a medium shot with a drab blue background and forces them to unearth the dour details of their lives. All the young people are severe. They may yearn for life in Hollywood, but they understand that steady work is more important than any pipe dream. Gurchiani follows a few into the Georgian countryside. One young man supervises a village of desperate retirees; a teenager struggles to support his disabled father. There is no narrative here, nor is there any editorializing from the filmmakers. Instead, The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear forces us to consider how years of poverty and war have a cascading effect on future generations. The plainspoken subjects are interesting in a National Geographic way, yet Gurchiani doesn’t give audiences enough to make them share her deep empathy. They deserve better, both in terms of how they live and who ends up filming them.