TBILISI: Georgia had a great year with more awards at international festivals and more attention given to Georgian films. Georgian cinema days were held in London, Kiev and Peru, and Georgia was a Focus Country at the 2017 International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film.
Ana Urushadze's debut feature Scary Mother won the Golden Leopard at the Locarno FF and the Grand Prix at the Sarajevo IFF in 2017. The film was also chosen as the official candidate from Georgia for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
Nana Ekvtimishvili’s and Simon Gross’s feature film My Happy Family became the first Georgian film to be purchased by Netflix.
Ten projects were supported in 2017 in the framework of the Film in Georgia programme. Their total spend amounted to 5.6 m EUR / 17.8 m GEL. More than 1,900 local cast and technical crew were employed.
Total admissions increased by 12.42 percent and total gross increased by 8.8 percent in 2017. Domestic films’ admissions and box office increased significantly.
Under a deal signed with Russia in September 2016, hundreds of films made from 1921 to 1991 are to be returned to Georgia. The first four films returned on 17 November 2016 under the project Return of Georgian Heritage to Homeland and another 11 films returned in 2017 with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, the Georgian National Film Center (GNFC), the TBC Bank, the GMT Group and the IDS Borjomi company.
Twelve Georgian feature films were produced in 2017, according to the GNFC. Five of them were already finished and seven were in postproduction at the beginning of 2018. All of them are supported by the GNFC.
Namme, written and directed by Zaza Khalvashi, and produced by Batumi Art-House Film Studio, was shot in 2017, the same as Brighton 4th, the third feature film by acclaimed Levan Koguashvili, which is a Georgian/Russian/Bulgarian/French coproduction between Kino Iberica, New Media Order, Art Fest and MACT Productions. Shooting continued in New York in January-February 2018.
Giorgi Katcharava's low budget feature film The Man, produced by Cinemagia, and Irakli Chxikvadze’s Game of War, produced by Stanly production, were in production at the beginning of 2018.
Other films, which were shot in 2017, were in postproduction at the beginning of 2018, such as the new feature film by Dimity Mamulia Unknown, produced by Milimeter Film, Dimitri Tsintsadze’s drama 43, a Georgian/Russian coproduction produced by Cinetech, Ursus (whose postproduction began in 2017), written by esteemed Zaza Buadze, directed by Otar Shamatava and produced by Georgia’s Studio O in coproduction with Ukraine’s Fresh Productions, Germany’s Aktis Film Production and Bulgaria’s Geopoly .
Also in the editing stage are Anton, directed by Zaza Urushadze and produced by GIF, and Bridge, directed by Erekle Badurashvili and produced by Geofilm.
Six short films were shot in 2017 and only five of them are completed: Delgma directed by Ani Kvichidze, Kakheti Train directed by Lali Kiknavelidze, Security Policeman directed by Nodar Nozadze, Gabana directed by Giga Baindurashvili and Animal directed by Amiran Dolidze.
Ten documentaries were shot in 2017, of which eight are completed: Mr. Johnson, directed by Tamar Mshvenieradz and produced by Lokokina, Chubchika, directed by Sasha Rekhviashvili and produced by Rati Rekhviashvili, Poisoned, directed by Tamar Bartaia and produced by Studio 99, Talk About Money directed and produced by Zaza Rusadze, Stories from Family Album, directed by Anna Dziapshipa and produced by Sakdoc, Abastumani, directed by Mariam Chachia and produced by Opiodoki Union, Didube, Last Stop, directed by Shorena Tevzadze and produced by Reality Films, and City of the Sun directed and produced by Rati Oneli.
Not finished yet are documentaries Pioneer Palace, directed and produced by Anna Cimintia, and Before Daddy Comes Back, directed by Mari Gulbiani and produced by Nushifilm,
Three animated films were produced in 2017: Fisherman and the Little Girl, directed by Mamuka Tkeshelashvili and produced by 20 Steps Productions, Zolemia, directed by Nana Samanishvili and produced by Keti Djanelidze, and Frog in Love, directed by Valer Kharitonashvili and produced by Alien Kid. Only Fisherman and the Little Girl is already finished, the rest of them are in postproduction.
Ten international productions have been shot entirely or partially in Georgia under the Film in Georgia programme, of which four are Indian feature films, five are Georgian/European coproductions and one is a U.S. production. The list includes: Halo of Stars directed by Anthony Lucero, produced by the American companies Hunter Image Media and St. Tisa, serviced by Misty Dawn and starring Lily Collins, Holliday Grainger and Stacy Martin; Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety directed by Luv Ranjan, produced by India Shoots and serviced by Sarke Studio; PSV Garuda Vega directed by Praveen Sattaru, produced by Jyostar Enterprises PVT Ltd, GFIG, and serviced by Sarke Studio; Gautamiputra Sakatarni directed by Krish Jagarlamudi, produced by First Frame Entertainment and serviced by Sarke Studio, and Daddy’s Girl directed by Julian Richards, produced by SG Films and serviced by Sarke Studio.
Total investments of all these ten projects amounted to 5.6 m EUR / 17.8 m GEL.
Film in Georgia’s team plans to continue active promotion of Georgia abroad, including 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 FAM tours to Georgia, in order to introduce filming locations and existing relevant infrastructure in the country.
“Besides international outreach, we are involved in building the local film industry representatives. We initiate training and masterclasses to introduce the best international practices and to facilitate knowledge and experience sharing. For example, at the end of January 2018, together with the US Embassy we organised a one week crash course on movie magic scheduling and budgeting software, that will be conducted by Richard Guay, New- York based producer”, Ani Machavariani, Public Relations Manager with Film In Georgia, told FNE.
New Georgian films were successful at festivals and domestically released in 2017. Hostages, directed by acclaimed Rezo Gigineishvili, premiered in the 2017 Berlinale's Panorama section. The film is a coproduction between Russia’s INK TV and NEBO Film Company, Georgia’s 20 Steps Productions and Poland’s Extreme Emotions. Hostages started its international theatrical distribution in France, when it was released by Kinovista on 2 August 2017.
Nana Ekvtimishvili’s and Simon Gross’s feature film My Happy Family had its world premiere in the main competition of the Sundance Film Festival and screened in the Berlinale’s Forum section. This Georgian/German/French coproduction is the first Georgian film for which Netflix purchased global distribution rights. It became available on Netflix starting 1 December 2017 and it is now available in 130 countries worldwide. The film was also released in European cinemas. For example, it had approximately 60,000 admissions in 60 French cinemas in 2017.
Scary Mother, the debut feature by Ana Urushadze, was awarded Golden Leopard at the Locarno FF and Grand Prix at the Sarajevo IFF. Later in 2017, this film produced by Studio Artizm in coproduction with Gemini and Estonia's Allfilm, was elected as the official candidate from Georgia for the Academy of Motion Pictures Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Rusudan Glurjidze's House of Others became the recipient of the prestigious Satellite prize, awarded by the International Press Academy, and it also received the Spotlight Award for the cinematography of Gorka Gómez Andreu and the Nika award in Moscow. House of Others is a Georgian/Russian/Spanish/Croatian coproduction, produced by Cinetech in coproduction with Liga Productions, Kinoskopik, Embrio Production and Sarke Studio.
Two Georgian films took part in the Karlovy Vary IFF competition programme. Mariam Khachvani's debut feature Dede was screened in the East of the West section. The film is a Croatian/UK/Dutch/Qatar/Georgian coproduction between MP Film Production, Film and Music Entertainment, Montauk Film Production, in association with Jaja Film Productions and the Dutch Film Club and with support of Doha Film Institute and GNFC. On 12 December 2017, Dede was screened at the head office of UNESCO in Paris.
Zaza Urushadze’s The Confessions aka The Monk had its world premiere in the 2017 Warsaw IFF’s International Competition and was later released with great acclaim in Georgia. The film was produced by Ivo Felt through Estonia’s Allfilm in coproduction with Zaza Urushadze through his company Cinema24. This is the same team that made Tangerines, which was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Feature Oscar in 2015.
Namme, directed by Zaza Khalvashi and produced by Batumi Art-House Film Studio, was selected for the Tokyo Film Festival.
Georgia was awarded four prizes at the Asia-Pacific Awards ceremony. The Jury Grand Prix was awarded to Ana Urushadze’s Scary Mother. Mariam Khachvani’s Dede received the Cultural Diversity Award under the patronage of UNESCO, Nata Murvanidze won Best Actress for Scary Mother and Vladimer Katcharava from 20 Steps Productions became the 2017 recipient of the MPA APSA Academy Film Fund.
Georgian films won four prizes at the 2017 Beijing IFF: Luka, directed by Giorgi Barabadze and produced by Bastra Films Ltd, won Best Feature Film and Best Supporting Actress (Lia Kapanadze), while House of Others was awarded Best Director and Best Cinematography.
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 (three screening halls, 648 seats) and Cinema Rustaveli LTD (five screening halls, 858 seats) in Tbilisi, and also Cinema Apollo LTD (one screening hall, 154 seats) in Batumi. The same company operates CAVEA cinemas, consisting of two multiplexes: CAVEA IMAX, with 10 screens including an IMAX screen (one screen with 33 seats is not working) and CAVEA MOLI, with five screens and 752 seats.
There are currently six cinemas in Georgia with 23 screens (including one IMAX). All except one are digitalised.
Rustaveli/Amirani Movie Theaters also runs Film Distribution LTD and Light Bank LTD, two divisions dealing with film production.
A total of 208 films were screened in cinemas in 2017.
The 2017 admissions top ten is topped by Beauty and the Beast with 54,964 admissions, followed by Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (44,320 admissions), The Fate of the Furious (37,322 admissions), Sing (35,341 admissions), Despicable Me 3 (34,748 admissions), La La Land (34,261 admissions), Thor: Ragnarok (29,408 admissions), Fifty Shades Darker (27,900), The Boss Baby (27,703) and Why Him? (27,429).
The most successful Georgian films in cinemas in 2017 were: Hostages, directed by Rezo Gigineishvili, with 35,249 admissions, My Happy Familly, directed by Nana Ekvtimishvili’s and Simon Gross, with 14,209 admissions, and The Confessions, directed by Zaza Urushadze, with 10,366 admissions.
Total admissions increased by 12.42 percent from 1,149,668 in 2016 to 1,292,496 in 2017.
Total gross increased by 8.8 percent from 3,062,226 EUR / 9,737,881 GEL in 2016 to 3,331,711 EUR / 10,594,843 GEL in 2017.
Domestic films’ admissions increased significantly from 4,506 in 2016 to 71,509 in 2017. Domestic box office increased from 11,455 EUR / 36,430 GEL in 2016 to 180,675 EUR / 574,547 GEL in 2017.
GRANTS AND LEGISLATION
The Georgian National Film Centre handles cinema strategy and allots state funding. The total amount of funding in 2017 was 1,247,409 EUR / 3,921,854 GEL. The GNFC gave out 1,181,202 EUR / 3,164,712 GEL in 2016.
In January 2017 the GNFC allotted 265,956 EUR / 835, 112 GEL for the production of two debut features and one sophomore film.
In April 2017 the new feature projects by Lasha Tskvitinidze, Lana Gogoberidze and Tamar Shavgulidze received production support from the GNFC.
Also in April 2017 the GNFC allotted 95,419 EUR / 300,000 GEL for the production of six long and short documentaries.
Project development grants were announced in July 2017.
In August 2017 the GNFC gave out 54,000 EUR / 40,000 GEL for the production of seven animated films.
In November 2017 the GNFC distributed 157,812 EUR / 505,000 GEL for the production of 14 short fiction films. The fund was increased from 50,000 EUR / 160,000 GEL to 157,812 EUR / 505,000 GEL after the evaluation of the projects.
Georgia launched its coproduction scheme for feature films in 2010 and also launched a new call for documentary coproductions in March 2014.
The winning projects of the 349,872 EUR / 1.1 m GEL, distributed within the Georgian-Foreign Production Competition of feature films in 2017, are Samurai, Is Time to Rest, directed by Levan Tutberidze and produced by Alamdari, Citizen Saint, directed by Tinatin Kajirishvili and produced by Artizm Studio, and Waters Store, directed by Stefan Tolz and produced by Studio 99.
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.
On 30 November 2017, the Minister of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia Mikheil Giorgadze and the Director of the GNFC Zurab Maghalashvili visited the Georgian Film studio and watched archive materials from the project Chronicle of Georgia, which started in 2016. The project implies cleaning, sorting, restoration and transferring to digital. The studio has a unique documentary collection of 25,000 boxes of films reflecting the history of Georgia in the 20th century.
In 2017 the first edition of the Georgian Cinema Forum See for the first time in Bakuriani was held in Bakuriani. The event was organised by the Ministry of Economy of Georgia and the GNFC, with plans to become an early event for Georgian film industry representatives and their latest films.
25 Years of Freedom is another new project of the GNFC aiming at promoting the development of film criticism in Georgia. In order to support the development of film science and film critics in Georgia, the GNFC also announced in 2017 the second edition of the Georgian Cinema competition. The winner of the competition will go to the Berlin IFF 2018.
The project Movie School started in 2014. A total of 665 schools from all regions of Georgia participated and 665 screenings took place.
In 2017 Eurimages supported three Georgian coproductions. 43, directed by Dimitry Tsintsadze and produced by Cinetech Film Production in coproduction with Viva Films (with 120,000 EUR), Negative Numbers, directed by Uta Beria and produced by Alief, Magnet Films in coproduction with Wide Management, 39 Films (with 86,000 EUR), and Girls of the Sun, directed by Eva Husson and produced by France’s Maneki Films in coproduction with Georgia’s 20 Steps (with 500,000 EUR).
Leading TV companies continue to produce TV series. The most popular feature TV series in Georgia are: Friends of My Wife / Chemi Tsolis Dakalebi (Broadcasting Company Rustavi2), In the City / Shua Kalakshi (Imedi) and Around Us / Chven Gverdit (Maestro). A new Georgian TV series The Great Break / Didi Shesveneba started broadcast on Imedi in 2017.
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, but it depends on the individual case, according to sources from GNFC.
Report by Alexander Gabelia (2018)Sources: the Georgian National Film Centre,Cinemas: Rustaveli, Amirani, Cavea Tbilisi Mall, Cavea East Point