Georgia

Beginning by Dea KolumbegashviliMARKET ANALYSIS 2020

TBILISI: Georgia was strongly affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, which shut down cinemas and film production for most of 2020, but Georgian films received new awards at international festivals. Georgian cinema days and retrospectives were held in Brussels, Tallinn, Split and Lisbon, and Georgia was the Focus Country at the 2020 Trento Film Festival.

Hundreds of films made from 1921 to 1991 are to be returned to Georgia under a deal signed with the film archives of the Russian Federation in 2016. The Georgian National Film Center (GNFC) declared 2020 the year of the 1920s cinema. Despite the epidemic situation, eight films from the 1920s brought from the Russian film archives "Gosfilmofond" were restored, in cooperation with the National Archives.

At the same time, work was completed on the book Georgian Cinema of the 1920s, which reflects the work of directors in this significant decade of the development of Georgian cinema.

Dea Kolumbegashvili's Beginning was selected as Georgia’s entry for the 93nd Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ award in the best international feature film category in 2020.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, no films or TV series were shot in Georgia under the Film in Georgia programme in 2020.

PRODUCTION

Five Georgian feature films were produced and only one of them was finished in 2020, according to the Georgian National Film Center. The domestic film finished in 2020 is Beginning, directed by Dea Kolumbegashvili and produced by First Picture / O.F.A with support from the Georgian National Film Center.

Six short films were shot in 2020 and all of them were already completed at the beginning of 2021: Hotel Mirage directed by Guram Bakradze and produced by Panik Films, Crossing directed by Sandro Naveriani and produced by Film Asylum, Thunderstruck directed by Giorgi Kobalia and produced by Film Asylum, Black Sea directed by Tinatin Emiridze and produced by Funder Ninuki Koiava, 26 directed by Gvantca Meparishvili and produced by Millimeter Film, and Heatwave directed by Tornike Gogrichiani and produced by Nushi Film. All of them are supported by the Georgian National Film Center.

Abandoned Village by Mariam KapanadzeEight documentaries were completed in 2020: MSHT-15 directed by Vakhtang Kuntsev-Gabashvili and produced by Akrobat Studio (Tbilisi), Aux-Trois-Mailletz directed by Tamar Bartaia and produced by Studio 99 Ltd, Lana, Anuka and the Whole Football Team directed by Ketevan Kapanadze and produced by Microcosmos, Taming the Garden directed by Salome Jashi and produced by Mira Film Basel in coproduction with Corso Film and Sakdoc Film (which was selected for the Sundance IFF 2021), Stories from Family Album directed by Anna Dziapshipa and produced by Sakdoc Film, Glory to the Queen directed by Tatia Skhirtladze and Anna Khazaradze, and produced by 1991 Productions, and Artisan or Artist directed by Giorgi Tskhvediani and produced by Funder Nikoloz Abramashvili. All of them are supported by the Georgian National Film Center.

Three animated films were produced in 2020: Abandoned Village directed by Mariam Kapanadze and produced by "Kvali XXI" and Filmcenter “Georgian Film-Abkhazeti", The Father directed by Archil Kukhianidze and produced by Animation Development Fund, and Raven directed by Alexander Katamashvili and produced by 20 Steps Productions.

Although, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, no films or TV series were shot in Georgia under the Film in Georgia programme in 2020, three filming location scouts from Universal Pictures visited Georgia in September 2020. Their visit was part of the partnership between Enterprise Georgia, USAID’s Economic Security Programme, the Georgian National Film Center, and the Georgian Film Cluster.

"Developing the local creative industry is one of Enterprise Georgia’s top priorities. The success of this sector plays a considerable role in the economic advancement of the country”, said Mikheil Khidureli, Enterprise Georgia CEO.

Enterprise Georgia has been implementing the Film in Georgia programme since 2016. As a consequence, several production companies from Europe, Asia and the USA have already worked in the country.

From 2016 to 2020, 30 project implementation contracts were signed as part of the programme and 22 of them have been completed. The qualified expenses of all the agreements amount to more than 23.5 m EUR / 94 m GEL. It is also important to note that 15,795 employment opportunities were created during the implementation process of the mentioned projects.

The Pig by Giga LiklikadzeThe Film in Georgia team plans to continue active promotion of Georgia abroad, including the participation in major industry events (AFCI, AFM Location Expo, Focus Expo, Winston Baker Film Finance Forum), meetings with major studios, location managers and independent producers, as well as organising tours in order to introduce filming locations and existing relevant infrastructure in Georgia.

“The Film in Georgia programme is the main motivator for attracting international projects to Georgia. Our country has all the major advantages in order to be competitive in the world, such as various locations, flexible and simplified processes, lack of licenses for filming, competitive prices, film friendly society and more. However, the fact that the state supports the film industry and offers a 20% cash rebate to companies, makes them more interested”, Tatia Bidzinashvili, Head of the Film in Georgia Cash Rebate Programme, told FNE.

DISTRIBUTION

Giga Liklikadze's debut feature Pig was released in Georgian cinemas on 16 January 2020. Pig is the only Georgian film released in cinemas in 2020. This film, produced by Sarke Studio, had its world premiere at the Cottbus IFF.

In February and June 2020, the Georgian National Film Center presented the Georgian Pavilion at the Berlin IFF and Cannes FF markets, the second of them being held online due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Georgian actor Levan Gelbakhiani was among the top ten European Shooting Stars at the 70th Berlin Film Festival. He was selected for his lead role in Levan Akin's And Then We Danced, produced by French Quarter Film and Takes Film, in coproduction with AMA Productions, RMV Film, Inland Film, in cooperation with Sveriges Television.

The 18th DocLisboa International Documentary FF, which was held online in 2020, screened a large retrospective: "An Exciting Retrospective of Georgian Cinema" with 40 films from different periods of time.

Georgian films received several awards in 2020.

Dea Kulumbegashvili's feature film Beginning received The Golden Shell at the San Sebastian FF, where Kulumbegashvili also received The Silver Shell for best director and together with Rati Oneli the jury prize for best screenplay. Ia Sukhitashvili was also awarded best actress. Beginning has also been selected for the 73rd edition of the Cannes Film Festival in the Official Selection of Cannes International Film Festival.

Tunnel by Nino Orjonikidze and Vano ArsenishviliNino Orjonikidze and Vano Arsenishvili's documentary Tunnel had its world premiere at the IDFA Amsterdam and it was also selected for the International Human Rights Documentary FF in Prague. The film won Best Film at the Underhill Fest in Podgorica in June 2020, as well as the main prize at the Trento IFF and best long documentary prize at the DokuBaku 2020 IFF.

Abandoned Village directed by Mariam Kapanadze, produced by "Kvali XXI" and Filmcenter “Georgian Film-Abkhazeti", won an award from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan at the NEW CHITOSE International Animated FF in Hokkaido in November 2020. The European premiere of the film took place at the International Animation Festival "ANIMATEKA" in Ljubljana later in November 2020.

Ekaterine (Keko) Chelidze's long documentary Dead Souls’ Vacation produced by Parachute Films had its online world premiere in The Changing Face of Europe section of the Hot Docs IFF in Toronto.

The BIAFF, organised by the Batumi Art-house ARGANI, which had originally been scheduled for 13-20 September 2020, was postponed for a digital edition 15-25 November 2020. The BIAFF director Giorgi Gogiberidze and manager Zviad Eliziani each were awarded a special prize by the Georgian Film Academy for their contribution to the Georgian Cinema.

The 8th edition of CinéDOC-Tbilisi, which started on 30 August 2020, wrapped with the announcement of the winning films on 30 September 2020. The festival is organised by the Noosfera Foundation.

Zako by Susana Khachatryan and The Living Book by Mindia Arabuli won the Annecy-Tbilisi Animation Pitching Workshop, which took place from 28 September to 2 October 2020.

The workshop for documentary filmmakers ESoDoc was held 26 November - 4 December 2020 with the support of the GNFC. The workshop included lectures, masterclasses, film screenings and discussions, and it is an initiative of ZeLIG School for Documentary, Television and New Media, in Bolzano (Italy). Guardians of Heritage by Keti Machavariani and Aleksandre Kviria was declared the best Georgian project of ESoDoc Impact Strategy Workshop.

The first edition of the Kutaisi International Short Film Festival, organised in partnership with the Georgian National Film Center and the Kutaisi Municipality, was postponed from 3–7 November 2020 to 3-7 May 2021 due to the pandemic situation.

The 21st edition of the Tbilisi International Film Festival ran online from 30 November through 20 December 2020 and combined industry days, masterclasses and film screenings. The first place in the Georgian-Baltic Bridge competition went to Ia directed by Keti Dead Souls Vacation by Ekaterine ChelidzeMachavariani and produced by Sunny Films in coproduction with Terra Incognita Films.

The Georgian animated film project Igi directed by Natia Nikolashvili and produced by Vladimer Katcharava through 20 Steps Productions, became the winner of the Central and Eastern European Animation Forum, held online from 6 to 8 October 2020.

The debut film project Holy Electricity by Tato Kotetishvili was awarded three prizes – the Camalot / Filmmore Emerging Cinema Award, NFF Script Development Award and HFM Market Potential Award at the Holland Film Meeting. The film is produced by Zango Studio and coproduced by Nushi Film.

The documentary project Smiling Georgia, directed by Luka Beradze and produced by 1991 Productions, was selected to participate among 28 projects in the European Work in Progress Cologne.

COVID GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

No funding or financial support to industry representatives affected by the Coronavirus pandemic was approved by the state in 2020, Gaga Chkheidze, Head of the Georgian National Film Center, told FNE.

A group of producers took the initiative to create production regulations and general recommendations together with various agencies in April 2020. The regulation document discusses the main recommendations to be followed during the film production process, the activities to be carried out on the set, and additional services. FNE spoke to the producers about the crisis and their proposals.

"Considering the nature of the current reality, there are many more practical details that need to be taken into consideration in a systemic form, with legally enforced documents, which will allow for safe, flexible and uninterrupted productions. Considering the recent experiences of working with various state institutions, the working group is hopeful that further measures will be taken to address the needs of the sector. While our non-formal working group remains open to further collaborations, we call for more proactive and systemic action from the government, which concerns not only the film industry, but the creative industry in general ", Nino Jincharadze, Working Group Member and Takes Film Producer, told FNE in September 2020.Zako by Susana Khachatryan

VOD PLATFORMS AND ONLINE DISTRIBUTION

Production studios and the Georgian National Film Center responded to the COVID-19 crisis with the launch of the initiative “Stay Home, Watch Georgian Films!”, under which 27 short and long films were screened online for free starting 25 March 2020. Among them were Georgia's 2019 Academy Award bid Namme directed by Zaza Khalvashi and produced by Georgia’s Batumi Art-House Film Studio in coproduction with Lithuania’s Tremora, the award-winning Moira directed and produced by Levan Tutberidze, I Am Beso directed by Lasha Tskvitinidze and produced by Pansionati, and Listen to the Silence directed by Mariam Chachia and produced by OpyoDoc in coproduction with France’s In the mood.

In November 2020 the GNFC launched an online film club, providing Georgian films as well as production news.

EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE

The first Dolby Atmos system cinema in Georgia opened in Tbilisi on 30 November 2017. The six-screen Cavea Galleria Tbilisi with 700 seats is the fifth cinema in the Georgian capital

There is also one chain of multiplexes, the privately owned Rustaveli/Amirani Movie Theaters consisting of Cinema Amirani LTD (four screening halls, 679 seats) and Cinema Rustaveli LTD (five screening halls, 858 seats) in Tbilisi, and also Cinema Apollo LTD (one screening hall, 154 seats) in Batumi. Cinema Rustaveli LTD closed in July 2018 and its future destiny is unclear.

Rustaveli/Amirani Movie Theaters also runs Film Distribution LTD and Light Bank LTD, two divisions dealing with film production.

The new multiplex Cavea City Mall with 886 seats opened in 2019. CAVEA also runs CAVEA IMAX, with 10 screens including an IMAX screen, and CAVEA MOLI, with five screens. No new cinema opened in 2020.

There are currently six cinemas in Georgia with 35 screens (including one IMAX). All except one screen are digitalised.

Igi by Natia NikolashviliA total of 67 titles were theatrically released in 2020, compared to 163 in 2019.

The 2020 admissions top ten is topped by Bad Boys For Life with 34,776 admissions, followed by Jumanji (33,559 admissions), Frozen II (25,171 admissions), Spy in Disguise (17,384 admissions), The Gentlemen (13,815 admissions), Sonic (10,932 admissions), Red Shoes and Seven Dwarfs (7,695 admissions), Playing with Fire (6,623 admissions), Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (6,595 admissions) and Harley Quin (6,511admissions).

Pig by Giga Liklikadze is the only Georgian film released in cinemas in 2020. It was released by Rustaveli/Amirani Movie Theaters.

Additionally, screenings of Golden Thread directed by Lana Ghoghoberidze and produced by Film Production in coproduction with France's Manuel Cam Studio continued in 2020. Golden Thread premiered on 12 December 2019. It was released by Rustaveli/Amirani Movie Theaters.

"Attendance-wise, the share of Pig and Golden Thread is very small. The films had approximately 2,000 admissions in all", Salome Kuprashvili, Cavea’s Marketing Manager, told FNE.

Cinemas closed on 16 March 2020 due to the pandemic situation. Prior to that, the Georgian cinemas were visited by an average of 100,000 viewers every month till the closing.

The premiere of Uta Beria's Negative Numbers, a Georgian/French/Italian coproduction between Magnet films, Alief, Wide Management and 39Films, had been scheduled for March 2020, but it was postponed for 9 July 2020, at the Cavea Drive-In Cinema. The film screened until 7 August 2020. In the first week of August, the screening of Shindisi Heroes directed by Dito Tsintsadze, produced by Vladimer Katcharava for 20 Steps Production and Edmond Minashvili for Free Movie Studio, was held again at the Cavea Drive-In Cinema.

"After almost a year of closure, cinemas are facing existential challenges and at this stage we do not know the estimated date of the resumption of screenings," Salome Kuprashvili also told FNE in January 2021.

Total admissions decreased by 83 percent from 1,359,365 in 2019 to 230,160 in 2020, according to the cinemas.Holy Electricity by Tato Kotetishvili

Total gross decreased by 86 percent from 4,145,123 EUR / 13,264,395 GEL in 2019 to 564,637 EUR / 2,258,549 GEL in 2020.

Admissions to domestic films decreased from 37,865 in 2019 to 2,000 in 2020.

Domestic box office decreased significantly. It was 119,979 EUR / 383,934 GEL in 2019, but the final statistics for 2020 were not ready at the beginning of 2021.

GRANTS AND LEGISLATION

The Georgian National Film Centre handles cinema strategy and allots state funding.

The total amount of funding in 2020 was 1,262,376 EUR / 5.1 m GEL. The GNFC gave out 1,660,043 EUR / 5,017,359 GEL in 2019.

In February 2020 the GNFC gave out 250,000 EUR / 800,000 GEL for the production of two first feature films.

In April 2020 the GNFC gave out 434,750 EUR / 1,499,888 GEL for the production of three feature films.

In May 2020 the GNFC allotted 135,402 EUR / 473,908 GEL for the production of six long documentaries.

In June 2020 the GNFC gave out 116,759 EUR / 396,982 GEL for the production of seven short films.

In July 2020 the GNFC allotted 202,898 EUR / 700,000 GEL for the production of two international coproductions.

The new Feature Film Script Grants were announced by the GNFC on 24 July 2020. A total of 41,449 EUR / 167,453 GEL was distributed to 17 projects.

The total amount of grants for short animated films, announced on 5 October 2020, was 17,082 EUR / 64,061 GEL.

Golden Thread by Lana GhoghoberidzeIn November 2020 the GNFC gave out 47,259 EUR / 189,036 GEL for the development of 13 documentaries.

The Georgian Feature Film Development Grants were announced by the GNFC in December 2020. The total amount of grants was 45,000 EUR / 180,000 GEL.

Georgia launched its coproduction scheme for feature films in 2010 and a new call for documentary coproductions in March 2014.

The tax incentives programme, which went into operation in 2016, offers a 20% cash rebate on qualified expenditure with an additional rebate of 2-5% based on the promotional value of the production.

The minimum limit of qualified expenses is approximately 190,000 EUR / 500,000 GEL for feature films, TV films, TV series/mini-series or animated films, and approximately 114,000 EUR / 300,000 GEL for documentaries, commercials, reality shows and music videos.

The programme has two stages. After shooting wraps in Georgia, 20% of qualified expenditure is automatically returned to the production company. When the film is finished and released, it is assessed according to pre-defined criteria (Georgia is mentioned as an acting place on the script level, well-known locations are used, etc.) for the additional 2-5% rebate. Both Georgian and foreign projects may participate.

No cultural test is required in order to apply for the initial 20% rebate, and the rebate also applies to key non-resident salaries paid in Georgia. The online application is valid for two years.

The Regional Film Fund of Adjara, on the Black Sea coast, launched in 2012, is also expected to boost the film initiative.

On 24 February 2015 Georgia joined the Creative Europe Programme.

The project Film at School started in 2014. According to data from 2018, a total of 800 schools from all regions of Georgia participated and 9,800 screenings took place since 2014. The project covered 90 schools and held a total of 1,024 film screenings in 2019. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the project conducted the 2020 season in a different format. A new online film education platform has been set up with the support from Creative Europe. Children watch films, discuss them and learn to make short films with the help of professionals.

Negative Numbers by Uta BeriaThe project won the Cinema Education contest (EACEA-14-2017 FILMEDU) in the framework of the Creative Europe Programme and became part of the project The Film Corner Reloaded - A Cultural Approach Together with Foreign Partners, organised by Fondazione Cineteca Italiana (Italy), The Film Space, (UK), The Nerve Center (Northern Ireland), the National Cinèmatheque of Serbia (Belgrade, Serbia), Kino Otok (Slovenia) and the University of Milano Bicocca, Dipartimento di Scienze Umane per la Formazione Riccardo Massa (Italy).

The "Summer Film School" was held for the sixth time during two weeks in the villages near the occupation line of Georgia in 2020. Due to the pandemic, the film screenings were held outdoors. The project partners are the GNFC, the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia and Creative Europe.

The GNFC  film educational project -  History-Film-History won a 205,295 EUR grant from the Creative Europe 2020 MEDIA sub-programme. This is the first time in the history of several years of cooperation with Creative Europe that Georgia has won as a lead country. The project partners are: Fondazione Cineteca Italiana, The Film Space Ltd., and the National Cinèmatheque of Serbia. History-Cinema-History will produce materials in two directions - teaching the history of 20th century Europe using films and teaching the history of cinema.

TV

Leading TV companies continued to produce new TV series in 2020. The most popular TV series in Georgia are: Friends of My Wife / Chemi Tsolis Dakalebi (Formula TV, formula.ge), In the City / Shua Kalakshi (Imedi) and Around Us / Chven Gverdit (Maestro). Two new Georgian TV series started broadcasting in 2020 -  Tesea (Formula TV) and Seance (Public Broadcasting – First Channel ).

The first Georgian children's animated TV series Rescuers also started broadcasting on the First Channel in 2020.

Private channels, Broadcasting Company Rustavi 2 and TV Imedi, are usually the producers of TV series. Public Broadcasting – First Channel also produces documentaries. TV channels do not fund independent film production as a rule, that depends on individual cases, according to sources from the GNFC.

One new TV channel opened in 2020, Lider TV.

The most popular domestic online platform is Myvideo.ge, a video sharing platform providing live streaming for dozens of TV channels.

CONTACTS:

GEORGIA NATIONAL FILM CENTER
4 Zviad Gamsakhurdia Named Right Bank
Tbilisi 0105, Georgia
Phone: (+995 322) 2 999 200
Fax: (+995 322) 2 999 102
www.gnfc.ge
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MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND MONUMENT PROTECTION GEORGIA
4, Sanapiro str., Tbilisi, Georgia, 0105Shindisi by Dito Tsintsadze, photo: 20 Steps Production
Media and Communications Division: (+995 322) 2 996 377
Office: (+995 322) 2 987 430
http://mcs.gov.ge/
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GEORGIA FILM ACADEMY
0108,  Tbilisi, Kaabadze Brothers N2
(+ 995 32) 299 60 13, 293 50 97
http://geofa.org.ge/
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SHOTA RUSTAVELI THEATRE AND FILM GEORGIAN STATE UNIVERSITY
Building 1 – 19 Rustaveli Ave., Tbilisi 0108, Georgia
Building 2 – 40 David Agmashenebeli Ave., Tbilisi 0102, Georgia
Tel: (+995 32) 999 411
Fax: (+995 32) 983 075
http://www.tafu.edu.ge/
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Report by Alexander Gabelia (2021)
Sources: the Georgian National Film Centre, “Film in Georgia”, Cinemas: Rustaveli, Amirani, Cavea Tbilisi Mall, Cavea East Point