• Golden Globe Awards

Brighton 4th (Georgia)

Brighton 4th is the latest offering from Georgian filmmaker Levan Koguashvili. It’s a bitter-sweet tale of parental devotion and the blood, sweat, and tears that a father-son relationship can entail. This heartfelt dramedy chronicles the journey of Kakhi (Levan Tediashvili), a former Olympic wrestling champion from Tbilisi who leaves his home in Georgia to travel to New York after he discovers his son, Soso (Giorgi Tabidze) is in trouble.
Although Soso had high hopes of pursuing a career as a doctor, after a few bad missteps, his dreams were looking more unlikely to be attained.  In fact, he finds himself in a desperate situation, in dire need of help. Living in the tightly woven Georgian immigrant community in Brighton Beach, New York, Soso is immersed in the goings-on in the boarding house in which he resides. Set against the claustrophobic backdrop of machismo and alcohol, good cheese, and songs from the old country, Soso finds himself in debt to the tune of $14k to a local gangster. If not paid, his current predicament will surely be the ruin of his life.
Music, specifically singing, is an important component of the film, and director Koguashvili explains, “That kind of singing is something I grew up with.  In my family, which is not a family of artists, as my father was a doctor and my mother, a biology teacher, but when we would have big gatherings of people, there was always lots of wine consumption combined with singing!” he says with a laugh. 
“Many Georgians grew up this way. In the ‘80s, when I would walk home at night, I would hear people singing from four or five different apartments.  It was a part of life. But by the ‘90s, the end of the Soviet Union, with poverty and blackouts, nobody was singing as much,” he recalls. “But in general, when you have a Georgian group, they end up singing.”
The movie is based on a true story. While Koguashvili was studying at New York University (Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film program) he met a Georgian man in search of his drug-addicted son who had relocated from Georgia to Brighton Beach, New York. Koguashvili’s film swapped out drug addiction for gambling, and left the familiar setting of Brighton Beach, an area he had often used as a backdrop for his student films.
With a screenplay by Boris Frumin (Black & White), Tediashvili, a former five-time Olympian wrestler in real life, makes his on-screen debut at the age of 73.  In playing the role of Kakhi, he gives the character gritty authenticity. An honorable man, Kakhi not only feels responsible for his son’s ill-fated decisions and misfortunes, but it seems that a weakness for gambling runs in the family and prior to making the trip to the United States, Kakhi also comes to the aid of his brother who has amassed gambling debts he is unable to pay and subsequently loses his apartment.  Although Tediashvili doesn’t lead with his past accomplishments as a wrestler, it is this very skill that helps his family.
Koguashvili says of working with a non-professional actor, “I had experience in previous films working with nonprofessional actors. In this instance, we were looking for an old wrestler and I couldn’t find an actor in Georgia his age who was, or even could look like an old wrestler. And Levan has a unique presence, which was the result of his life in a way because he is an unbeatable champion who has had personal tragedy in his life,” he says. “It’s on his face – tragedy and victory mixed together.” 
Brighton 4th marks Koguashvili’s third directorial feature following Street Days (2010), and the documentary Gogita’s New Life (2016) and was awarded three trophies at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival for Best International Narrative Feature, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay.