Monday, August 28, 2006

13 (Tzameti)

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Written and Directed by Gela Babluani

Starring Georges Babluani

This movie's plot is simple but the theme is mind-bogglingly disturbing. It is disturbing because it is so true. Poverty kills, literally.

Sebastien, played by Georges Babluani, mends roofs to earn money for the family. He takes on a project that unwittingly brings him misfortune, a promise of a better life for his family. He overhears the man of the house whose roof he's mending talk about waiting for a letter that will get him a fat paycheck. The man, a morphine-addict, dies and the letter, which contains a train ticket and a paid hotel pass flies to his lap. What does a man do faced with an opportunity to salvage himself from poverty? He packs his bags and takes the dead man's place, not knowing the trouble he gets himself into. First, he doesn't know that the police have been following the dead man's trail, suspecting that he is involved in some illegal gambling where money is spent and blood is shed. Second, he becomes a pawn to an elite group of wealthy men who bet millions to see unfortunate men willingly kill each other for the game.

He is whisked off to a house hidden in the forest, that after being taken to a secluded abandoned shed where he is subjected to a full body search, the gamekeepers making sure he has no bugs in him. He realizes the trouble he is in too late. He is number 13 of the men who are ready to get shot on the head for money or dead.

The game is like a free-for-all cock derby, angry gamecocks slashing each other's necks, but more tension-filled, more brutal, so human---mindlessly killing each other for the pot.

Despite the mess, Sebastian discovers his luck on the number 13, surviving the three rounds leading him to a duel with the three-time winner number 16, whose own brother pawns him for the big bucks. But luck smiles at 13 this time. Sebastian walks off with the money. Happy ending? I won't cook you a spoiler here. Watch 13. But here's one thing. Poverty kills, but not necessarily of hunger. Some die in the effort to extract themselves from that unfortunate situation.

The movie made the rounds of film festivals in Europe in 2005, winning the Best World Film category at the Sundance and the Best First Feature Film in Venice.

And by the way, this is not a movie review.

Check out the sweet pics from the movie.

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