Tangerines (‘Mandariinid’)

DRAMA; 1hr 27min (Estonian and Russian with subtitles)

STARRING: Lembit Ulfsak, Elmo Nüganen, Giorgi Nakashidze, Misha Meskhi

Still life with fruit basket: Ulfsak

In 1992 in war-ravaged Abkhazia, Estonian villager Ivo (Ulfsak) gets busy making wooden crates to hold the tangerines that his sole neighbour, Margus (Nuganen), is equally busy picking. When a Chechen and a Georgian soldier (Nakashidze and Meskhi as Ahmed and Niko) are badly wounded outside his farmhouse front door, Ivo calmly shelters them both, unconcerned by their mortal enmity.


Slowly, slowly, the soldiers’ bodies mend, their hearts not so much at the start. Having promised Ivo not to kill Niko inside the house, Ahmed is itching for an in. “Don’t even extend your head out or I will chop it off at once,” he waspishly remarks. At such close quarters, a drolly fragile détente is easy to foresee, but outside forces are not so forgiving. In the grace of its contradictory friendships, writer-director Zaza Urushadze’s plea for peace is as moving as a lament.