Tangerines (film)

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Tangerines film.jpg
Film poster
Directed byZaza Urushadze
Written byZaza Urushadze
Produced by
CinematographyRein Kotov
Edited byAlexander Kuranov
Music byNiaz Diasamidze
Distributed byAllfilm, Cinema 24, Samuel Goldwyn Films[1]
Release date
  • 15 October 2013 (2013-10-15)
Running time
87 minutes
CountriesEstonia, Georgia
LanguagesEstonian, Russian, Georgian
Box office$1,052,799[2]

Tangerines (Georgian: მანდარინები Mandarinebi, Estonian: Mandariinid) is a 2013 Estonian-Georgian film directed, produced and written by Zaza Urushadze. Set during the 1992–1993 War in Abkhazia, the film is a morality tale addressing issues of conflict, reconciliation and pacifism.[3][4] It was filmed in Guria, Georgia.

It was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards[5][6] and was among the five nominated films at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.[7]


In a rural village of ethnic Estonians in Abkhazia, a Russian-backed separatist region in the newly independent Georgia, Ivo (Lembit Ulfsak) and his friend Margus (Elmo Nüganen) are the only two of their once large community who have not fled for Estonia after the outbreak of the war. Margus has delayed leaving until he can harvest his lucrative tangerine crop. Ivo, a carpenter, is attempting to make enough wooden crates to hold all the unpicked tangerines, but doesn't reveal his reasons for staying.

Two Chechen mercenaries fighting alongside the Abkhaz separatists show up and demand food from Ivo before leaving peacefully. However, they get into a firefight with Georgian soldiers in front of Margus' house, leaving only one alive from each side. Ahmed (Giorgi Nakashidze), the surviving Chechen, and Nika (Mikheil Meskhi), a Georgian volunteer, are both gravely wounded, and Ivo brings them into his home to nurse them back to health.

While both vow to kill each other once they have the strength, Ivo secures a pledge from each to not enact any vengeance under his roof. A great deal of tension ensues between the two enemies as they begin to recover over many days in the same tiny house. Slowly, the two begin to recognize the humanity and honor in each other. Under the moral tutelage of the senior and wise Ivo, the two move from hatred and antagonism, to respect and camaraderie.

When Abkhaz soldiers come to the house, Ivo convinces Ahmed to tell them that Nika is also a fellow Chechen, but whose head wound has left him unable to speak.

After a local military patrol fails to show to harvest the tangerines as planned, Margus is desperate. The Abkhaz soldiers, having set up camp nearby, promise to help harvest the tangerines in two days. That night, however, shelling hits the village, destroying Margus' property. Ahmed offers Margus a large wad of cash that he has made from being a mercenary, but Margus refuses money "made like that".

Russian Ground Forces troops allied to the Abkhaz and Chechens later drive up to Ivo's house, finding Ahmed and Margus outside, and falsely accuse Ahmed of being Georgian. They are about to execute him when Nika shoots them from the house with a rifle. In the firefight, Margus is killed by Russian gunfire. Ahmed and Nika partner to fight the Russians, but Nika is shot dead by a wounded Russian before Ahmed finishes off Nika's killer.

Ivo and Ahmed bury Margus and Nika. Ivo reveals that Nika's body lies next to that of his own son, who was killed when the war broke out in August 1992. Ivo tells Ahmed that if he had died instead of Nika, Ivo would have buried Ahmed next to his son as well. Ahmed tells Ivo that he misses his own family, and begins his drive home to a Chechnya that will be plunged into a similar bloody war less than two years later. He listens to a cassette tape of Georgian music that belonged to Nika.


  • Lembit Ulfsak as Ivo, an elderly Estonian farmer living in Abkhazia. He is a hawk-faced older fellow, who never hesitates; he instantly helps others, regardless of their "side" in this misery.
  • Giorgi Nakashidze as Ahmed, a wounded Chechen soldier, slightly wounded but eager to "kill that scumbag in the next room!" Ivo eventually gets him to promise not to kill Nika unless he steps outside the house.
  • Elmo Nüganen as Margus, a friend of Ivo, another Estonian farmer, with a tangerine orchard. He wants to make this sale so he can join his family in Estonia.
  • Mikheil (Misha) Meskhi as Nika, a wounded Georgian soldier and an ethnic Christian with shrapnel in his head. His hatred for Ahmed is every bit as venomous.

Critical reception[edit]

The film received an 88% rating from review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes based on 66 reviews, with an average rating of 7.40/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Tangerines' impassioned message and the strong work of a solid cast more than make up for the movie's flawed narrative and uneven structure."[8] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 73 out of 100 based on 18 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[9]

According to the film critic Anthony D'Alessandro, Nüganen drew a parallel to the 2014 Ukraine-Russia Conflict.[10]


Award Date of ceromoney Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Academy Awards 22 February 2015 Best Foreign Language Film Tangerines Nominated [11]
Gaudí Awards 31 January 2016 Best European Film Tangerines Won [12]
Bari International Film Festival 12 April 2014 Best Picture Tangerines Won [13]
Fajr International Film Festival 4 February 2014 The Crystal Simorgh for Best Screenplay Zaza Urushadze Won [14]
The Crystal Phoenix for Best Picture Zaza Urushadze and Ivo Felt Won
Golden Globe Awards 11 January 2015 Best Foreign Language Film Tangerines Nominated [15]
International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg 10 November 2013 Audience Award Tangerines Won
Special Award of Mannheim-Heidelberg Tangerines Won
Jerusalem Film Festival 19 July 2014 In the Spirit of Freedom Awards in Memory of Wim van Leer Zaza Urushadze and Tangerines Honourable mention [16]
Satellite Awards 15 February 2015 Best Foreign Language Film Tangerines Won [17]
Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 30 November 2013 Best Estonian Film Tangerines Won [18]
War on Screen 5 October 2014 Jury Grand Prix Tangerines Won [19]
Warsaw International Film Festival 20 November 2013 Audience Award: Best Feature Film Tangerines Won [20]
Best Director Award Zaza Urushadze Won

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Samuel Goldwyn Films acquires "Tangerines" rights in the US". Estonian World. 16 February 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  2. ^ "Mandariinid (2015)". The Numbers. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  3. ^ "Review: Estonians as Conflict Mediators in 'Tangerines'" news.err.ee, 11 November 2013
  4. ^ "Warsaw 2013 Review: Tangerines, An Engrossing Morality Tale That's Also A Lot Of Fun" Archived 19 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Croatia, Serbia, Finland and Estonia have announced their nominations for the category". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  6. ^ "Oscar Nominations 2015: See The Full List". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  7. ^ "72ND Annual Golden Globe® Awards Nominees Announced". Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Tangerines (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Tangerines Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  10. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro. "'Tangerines', Estonia's Oscar Submission, Draws Parallel To Ukraine-Russia Conflic". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 18 November 2014. The film, in its illumination of the Abkhazian battle, reminded the packed house last night of another conflict in its hemisphere between Russia and Ukraine.
  11. ^ "Oscars 2015: Nominations list". BBC News. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  12. ^ "Tangerines Named As The Best European Film". Caucasus Business Week. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  13. ^ Bari International Film Festival 2014
  14. ^ "32nd Fajr International Film Festival 2014"
  15. ^ "Tangerines". Golden Globe Awards. Archived from the original on 16 February 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  16. ^ "2014 JFF Winners Announced". Jerusalem Film Festival. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  17. ^ "Current Nominees | Categories". International Press Academy. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  18. ^ "Selgusid PÖFFi võitjad". ERR (in Estonian). 30 November 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  19. ^ "War on Screen 2014"
  20. ^ "29th Warsaw International Film Festival". Warsaw Film Festival. 2013. Retrieved 22 January 2016.

External links[edit]