We Just Wanted To Be Happy is an intimate look at one woman’s touching story, set amongst a backdrop of family, estrangement and childbirth. WJWTBH tells the story of Christina, an Armenian woman estranged from her family and her husband and caught in the midst of a personal drama that reads like a modern-day tragic play.
Armenian cinema is often a bizarre mix of post-soviet influences, foreign cinema and state backed film. These influences sometimes manifest themselves in confusing and unclear displays. But this is an independent film with a strong vision. With laser-like precision the film dissects and reflects upon the human emotion of the story in what feels like a planned assault on this very real tragedy. Besides one slightly jarring change in style for a single scene midway there is very little out of place, the storytelling is concise and understated. What the director aims for the director achieves.
Milky Brother is the story of the reluctant bond of a boy and his family’s tame lamb, Archjo, both caught in a situation that neither fully understand. Set in the grim mountainous countryside of Armenia it is a tale of childhood and adult realities seen through the story of the young protagonist.
I remember vividly the first time I ever talked to an Armenian about gay people. Her response, which at first shocked me greatly, sadly turned out to be a fairly mainstream opinion in her culture.
“I’d rather be dead than be gay” she told me, in the midst of a casual conversation, on a bench on a busy street where a hundred strangers could have heard her share her thoughts.
The climate towards LGBT people in Armenia is ever-changing but still difficult. A recent report from the International Day Of Homophobia and Transphobia described it as ‘very hostile’, and although there are sadly countries in the world that are worse Armenia remains one of the worst countries in the European continent for homophobic attitudes.
As I write this piece I am already planning my return to Georgia somewhere in the back of my head. There are a million reasons someone might want to visit this spectacular country, but only one stands out to me – the typical guidebook cliché, the ‘hospitality’.
Every culture has their own idea of a good time, whether it’s drinks with family, drinks with friends or drinks with strangers – but when it comes down to it most human beings celebrate life with some variation of drinking and eating.
The Supra is Georgia’s solution to the problem of a good time. A traditional feast held by friends and family that can be sombre, melancholy, happy and joyful all in the same evening. The idea of the Supra seems simple – loved ones gather to drink and eat, wine is poured and toasts are made. But the reality is a complicated blend of ceremony, drinking, traditions and witticisms that are unlike anything a Brit can comprehend.
The bath houses of Tbilisi hold a deep significance to the culture of the city. Legend has it that in the 5th century King Vakhtang Gorgasali stumbled across the sulphuric waters that still feed today’s bathhouses and was so taken aback that he order his capital to be moved there. And so Tbilisi and Georgia’s capital was born.
This was the first fact I learnt on my trip to the Georgian bathhouses. But there is nothing interesting in reading a history lesson, and there is nothing I could add to the topic that countless writers before me have not already said. Entire books have been written on the subject in fact. However, there is something to be said about what this unique experience gave me as another outsider passing through this spectacle.