A presidential pre-election campaign “Smiling Georgia” promises elderly inhabitants of village No Name to replace their teeth with good quality dentures. After the campaign fails, the villagers are left deceived and toothless.
It’s 2012, and the ENM party, led by the president, are running for reelection. Their campaign is set to focus on agriculture, employment and healthcare, most notably the promise of subsidized dental care for all. Across the country, dentists have been removing rotten teeth with the guarantee that replacements will be made available in the coming months. The president said he wanted to make “Georgia smile,” then he lost.
Fast forward to the present day and many of those gaps are yet to be filled. Through a series of interviews in village No Name,, Smiling Georgia looks back on the reckless promise and surveys the aftermath. There is the villager who remembers the long queues to get work done. There is the elderly woman who recalls having 15 teeth removed, three at a time. One man still believes that thee president had simply grown tired of having to hug toothless women. Amongst them, we see images of village life: friends drinking tea; men singing traditional song; a horse race; a wedding celebration — life, as always, simply going on.
What emerges is a portrait of rural life and a defiant people left solidly disillusioned with those in power. Building toward the 2021 reelection of the Georgian Dream party, who toppled the ENM in 2012 and have been in power ever since, Smiling Georgia is also a film about the transience of power, the things politicians will say to keep it, and the people who are always left to pay the bill. It’s