The Abastumani sanatorium for tuberculosis patients was built high up in the Georgian mountains in the late 1800s. The building, with its foggy views of coniferous forests, was home to the outcasts of society. Located on top of “Magic Mountain”, it witnessed many turns of history. It was originally built as a care facility for Grand Duke George Alexandrovich of the Romanov family, and over the years, it has transformed from wood to stone. It was a symbol of pride during the Soviet era, but did not survive the modern capitalist era; the sanatorium’s story came to an end when a local oligarch acquired the estate and demolished the old building.
Mariam Chachia, who is herself a tuberculosis survivor, directed Magic Mountain together with her spouse Nik Voigt. The idea for the film came from nightmares that haunted her for years. In the dreams, Chachia was told that the Abastumani sanatorium would become her home. Much has happened since the film project began in 2014; no one anticipated at the time that the building would be sold and torn down.
Patients struggling with diseases such as alcoholism and their Soviet-era doctors roam the halls, hidden away by the building’s crumbling façade. The walls are decorated with icons of Christ, the rooms are dark and dreary. Accompanied by atmospheric music, the film is at once a documentation of a building that was swept away by the ruthless forces of capitalism, and a symbolic representation of the reality of contemporary Georgian society.
Joonatan Nikkinen (translated by Mira Sairanen)