TBILISI: Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s new film The President, which was shot in Georgia with Georgian actors, was praised for its gritty and realistic action and location work and has given a big boost to the Georgian film industry. The Georgian coproducer Vladimer Katcharava from 20 Steps Productions Ltd told FNE about why this is the right time to shoot in Georgia.
The President is an allegorical story set in an imaginary village in the Caucasus, where the president (Misha Gomiashvili) is on the run with his five-year-old grandson (Dachi Orvelashvili) following a coup d’état. The coproduction between Georgia (20 Steps Productions, Ltd), France (BAC Film), the UK (F&ME) and Germany (Bruemmer und Herzog Filmproduktion production), which was supported by Georgian National Film Centre, is expected to boost the Georgian film industry.
The film opened the ORIZZONTI section of the 71st Venice IFF was praised by critics for the work of its Georgian action and its Georgian locations. The coproducer Vladimer Katcharava from 20 Steps Productions Ltd told FNE that this is the right time to shoot in Georgia.
Shooting was not easy given the fact that it was one of the coldest winters in Georgia in recent years. The project applied for funding at the Georgian National Film Center but it started shooting with no money secured: “We’ve went through the ordinary competition for coproductions and when GNFC came on board it was big relief for me.”, says Katcharava.
The film's street fights, praised in Venice, were made with several professional stuntmen, but mostly with extras. Vladimer Katcharava says that they were realistic thanks to the director and the DoP Konstantin Mindia Esadze.
He also points out the advantages and the disadvantages of shooting in Georgia: “It’s a film friendly country. Everyone from ordinary people to governmental structures try to help, it’s cheap to shoot there and still get good quality, and there are good locations. However, our main problem is that the industry is very small and it’s unable to have two films shooting at the same time.” But things are moving fast. “The Georgian cinema was off the cinema map for a long time. Now we are back. The world and especially Europe need to discover Georgia”, says Katcharava.
Katcharava is developing another Georgian feature, Dede, set for shooting next year, which will also be a coproduction. “Georgia is small and if you want to make quality films, you have to do coproductions whether they are Georgian or foreign”, says the young producer.
Several international productions were shot in Georgia in the last few years, such as The Georgian-French-German-Czech-Kazhak coproduction Corn Island by George Ovashvili, Jacky in the Kingdom of Women/ Jacky au royaume des filles by Riad Sattouf which was coproduced by Georgian International Films and The Search by Michael Hazanavicius a French Georgian coproduction with Sarke Studio/GFIG coproducing in Georgia.
According to the GNFC, eight foreign films, mostly coproductions, were shot in Georgia between November 2012 and November 2013. Approximately 50% of the domestic films produced during a year are coproductions. A cash rebate plan is still in discussion.