Georgia had a great year with more awards at international festivals and more attention given to Georgian films. Georgian cinema days were held in Chicago, London and Lithuania and Georgia was a Focus Country at the 2018 Filmkunstfest, Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur for Animated Film, the Cottbus Film Festival, the Encounters Film Festival in Bristol and at Filmfest Dresden.
Eighteen projects were supported in 2018 in the framework of the Film in Georgia programme. Their total spend amounted to 12 m EUR / 36 m GEL. More than 4,000 local cast and technical crew were employed.
Total admissions increased by 0.457 percent from 1,292,496 in 2017 to 1,298,404 in 2018. Admissions for domestic films decreased from 71,509 in 2017 to 55,495 in 2018.
Under a deal signed with Russia (Gosfilmofond, the film archives of the Russian Federation) in September 2016, hundreds of films made from 1921 to 1991 are to be returned to Georgia. The first four films returned in November 2016 under the project Return of Georgian Heritage to Homeland, eleven films returned in 2017 and another 18 films returned in 2018 with the support of the Ministry of Education, Science Culture and Sport of Georgia, the Georgian National Film Center (GNFC), the TBC Bank, the GMT Group, the IDS Borjomi company and the Geocell company. At this stage 34 Georgian films are back in Georgia.
Seven Georgian feature films were produced and finished in 2018, according to the GNFC. 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 premiere took place in 2018.
The production of 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, also wrapped in 2018. It will premiere in the near future.
Giorgi Katcharava's low budget feature film The Man, produced by Cinemagia, is also already completed.
Other films are ready for their premieres. They were shot in 2017 and they were in postproduction at the beginning of 2018. The list includes the new feature film by Dimitry Mamulia, Unknown, produced by Milimeter Film, and Ursus, written by the 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. The postproduction of Ursus began in 2017.
The feature film Parade, directed by Nino Zhvania and produced by New Georgian Film, was completed in 2018. It was awarded best film at the Tbilisi International Festival in 2018.
The feature film Neighbors by Gigisha Abashidze was also completed in 2018. This is the first Georgian/Macedonian coproduction, produced by Studio Artizm in coproduction with Georgia’s Gemini and Macedonia’s Small Moves Films.
Tamar Shavgulidze’s feature film My House in Front of the Forest completed shooting in Tsavkisi and moved into postproduction in 2018. The film is inspired by Galaktion Tabidze’s poem I Still See It, Your Apartment at the Edge of the Forest, with the script written by Shavgulidze. The film is produced by Nushi Film.
The documentary director Rudolph Herzog shot his debut feature in Georgia in 2018. How to Sell a War is coproduced by Georgia's 20 Steps Productions.
Six short films were shot in 2018, of which three are already completed: Night Duty, directed by Nato Gabunia and Grigol Janashia and produced by Predator Film, Eraser, directed by Data Pirtskhalava and produced by Milimeter Film, and Bad People, directed by Giorgi Tavartkiladze and produced by 20 Steps Productions.
Seven documentaries were shot in 2018, of which four are completed: Homeless directed by Zurab Inashvili and produced by Author's Film Studio, Pioneer’ Palace directed by Ana Tsimintia and produced by Matchhouse, In The Hot Sun directed by Shorena Tevzadze and produced by DiaFilm, and Before Dad Comes Back directed by Mariam Gulbiani and produced by Nushi Film.
The following documentaries are not yet finished: Lost Eight and a Half directed by Vakhtang Varazi and produced by Nali, Floating Trees directed by Salome Jashi and produced by Sakdok Film, and How to Become Georgian directed by Natia Arabuli-Weger and produced by EBC Film Studio
Three animated films were produced in 2018: 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 was already finished at the beginning of 2019, the rest of them were in postproduction.
The following films and TV series were shot under the Film in Georgia programme in 2018: SEY RAA 2 (India) directed by Surrender Reddy, produced by Production House (Sweden) and serviced in Georgia by Production House Ltd , And Then We Danced directed by Levan Akin, produced by ATWD and serviced by ATWD, Inside Edge (India) directed by Karan Anshuman, produced by SG Film Production and serviced by SG Film Production, The Mask (China) directed by Jian Lou, produced by Arsen Productions Ltd and serviced by Arsen Productions Ltd, In the Shadows (Turkey, Georgia) directed by Erdem Tepegoz, produced by Digital Kitchen Film and Contact Film Works, and serviced by Digital Kitchen Film Ltd, and Missing Emily (Georgia) directed by Padraig Reynolds, produced by MISSING EMILY LLC and serviced by MISSING EMILY LLC.
The total investment of all 18 projects shot under Film in Georgia so far amounts to 12 m EUR / 36 m GEL. More than 4,000 local cast and technical crew were employed.
Only the Chinese project The Mask starring Ryan Zheng and Zhang Guoli spent more than 3,666,666 m EUR / 11 m GEL in Georgia and used more than 1,900 people in its large scale shooting.
The Film in Georgia 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.
“The programme Film In Georgia 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 20% cash rebate to companies, makes them more interested. So it will be possible to make more investments“, Tatia Bidzinashvili, Head of the Film in Georgia Cash Rebate Programme, told FNE.
The agency also hosts Hollywood producers every year and organises FAM tours to discover Georgia as the most attractive location of Eastern Europe. Also, during the year, the agency organises official Georgian stands at a number of cinematic markets.
New Georgian films were successful at festivals and domestically released in 2018.
Horizon directed by Tinatin Kajrishvili and produced by Gemini, had its world premiere within the Panorama section of the Berlin International Film Festival on 16 February 2018. The film was developed with the support of the Georgian National Film Centre and it is a Georgian/Swedish coproduction.
Irakli Kvirikadze was among the 10 most promising European actors selected by the European Film Promotion for Berlinale’s European Shooting Stars programme in 2018. Irakli Kvirikadze is known for playing the lead role in Hostages by Rezo Gigineishvili, a coproduction between Russia’s INK TV and NEBO Film Company, Georgia’s 20 Steps Productions and Poland’s Extreme Emotions.
My Happy Family directed by Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross was nominated for Germany's LOLA Awards by the German Film Academy. My Happy Family is the first Georgian film for which Netflix purchased global distribution rights. The film, produced by Germany’s augenschein Filmproduktion GmbH in coproduction with Georgia’s Polare Film Llc and France’s Arizona Production, became the first film to bring back more than 20% of the qualified expenditure on production.
Georgian short documentary The Trader / Sovdagari directed by Tamta Gabrichidze was broadcast on Netflix in 2018. The Trader had its premiere at the Hot Docs Documentary Film Festival 2017 in Toronto, where it won the best short documentary award.
The Cranes Are Flying (1957) by Georgian-born Soviet director Mikheil Kalatozishvili was screened in the Berlinale Classics of the 68th Berlin International Film Festival in 2018.
After receiving several accolades in 2017, including the Golden Leopard at the Locarno FF and the Grand Prix at the Sarajevo IFF, Ana Urushadze’s Scary Mother opened the Critics’ Week in Berlin in February 2018. Scary Mother, which was produced by Studio Artizm in coproduction with Gemini and Estonia's Allfilm, was also selected for the 47th edition of New Directors/New Films in 2018.
Tthree Georgian filmmakers (Ana Sarukhanova, Rati Tsiteladze, Nino Varsimashvili) participated in the Berlinale Talents in 2018.
Ana Chubinidze's animated film Pocket Man received the Young Audience Award at the International Film Festival of Roanne, France. Pocket Man is the first Georgian/French animated film coproduction and it was created with the support of the GNFC.
Georgian films won four prizes at the 2018 Beijing IFF: Scary Mother, directed by Ana Urushadze and produced by Studio Artizm in coproduction with Gemini and Estonia's Allfilm, won Best Feature Film and Best Supporting Actress (Nato Murvanidze), while Dede directed by Mariam Khachvani and produced by 20 Steps in coproduction with Film and Music Entertainment, MP Film Production, Montauk Film Production and JaJa Film Productions, was awarded Best Director and Best Cinematography.
The Georgian short animated film Geno has been sold to Japan, Korea, France, Spain and the United States. This first Georgian 3D animated film was directed by David Kiknavelidze and produced by Lira Production Studios, with the support of the GNFC.
Also in 2018 the GNFC hosted a retrospective of Georgian films at the Frankfurt Book Fair. More than 20 films from silent cinema to Georgia's independence were screened, including the avant-garde cinematic samples such as Kote Mikaberidze's My Grandmother (1929) and Mikheil Kalatozishvili's Salt of Svanetia (1930).
In 2018 Zaza Khalvashi's Namme was selected as Georgia’s entry for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ award in the best foreign language film category. This Georgian/Lithuanian coproduction had its international premiere at the Tokyo Film Festival in 2017.
The Oscar and Golden Globe campaign featured the first official screening of Namme in Los Angeles on 7 November 2018, followed by two additional screenings organised by the European Film Promotion on 11 and 15 November 2018. Giorgi Shvelidze, the cinematographer of Namme, was nominated for the 33rd American Society of Cinematographers Awards in the Spotlight Award category. The ceremony will be held on 9 February 2019.
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.
The same company operates CAVEA cinemas, consisting of two multiplexes: CAVEA IMAX, with 10 screens including an IMAX screen, and CAVEA MOLI, with five screens.
Rustaveli/Amirani Movie Theaters also runs Film Distribution LTD and Light Bank LTD, two divisions dealing with film production.
There are currently six cinemas in Georgia with 26 screens (including one IMAX). All except one screen are digitalised.
A total of 179 films were screened in cinemas in 2018.
The 2018 admissions top ten is topped by Hotel Transylvania 3 with 64,494 admissions, followed by Avengers: Infinity War (63,064), Venom (35,833), Bohemian Rhapsody (34,652), Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (34,446), Black Panther (34,220), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (28,898), Incredibles 2 (28,872), Smallfoot (25,740) and Deadpool 2 (25,272).
The most successful Georgian films in cinemas in 2018 were: Naughty Children: Operation Ninth Sky directed by Zura Menteshashvili and produced by Mentesh Production, with 19,049 admissions, Ekvtime: Man of God directed by Nikoloz Khomasuridze and produced by Lost Legends, with 19,003 admissions, and DeDe directed by Mariam Khachvani and produced by 20 Steps, with 10,259 admissions.
Total admissions increased by 0.457 percent from 1,292,496 in 2017 to 1,298,404 in 2018.
Total gross increased by 11.8 percent from 3,331,711 EUR / 10,594,843 in 2017 to 4,006,124 EUR / 12,018,372 GEL in 2018.
Admissions to domestic films decreased from 71,509 in 2017 to 55,495 in 2018.
Domestic box office decreased from 180,675 EUR / 574,547 GEL in 2017 to 137,007 EUR / 411,022 GEL in 2018.
GRANTS AND LEGISLATION
The Georgian National Film Centre handles cinema strategy and allots state funding. The total amount of funding in 2018 was 1,407,709 EUR / 4,223,128 GEL. The GNFC gave out 1,247,409 EUR / 3,921,854 GEL in 2017.
In March 2018 the GNFC gave out 83,333 EUR / 250,000 GEL for the production of seven animated films.
Project development grants were announced in April 2018.
In May 2018 the GNFC allotted 339,466 EUR / 977,668 GEL for the production of three debut features.
In June 2018 the GNFC allotted 150,000 EUR / 420,000 GEL for the production of eight long and two short documentaries.
Georgia launched its coproduction scheme for feature films in 2010 and also launched 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.
In 2018, the Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport Levan Kharatishvili and the Director of the GNFC Zurab Maghalashvili visited the Georgian Film Studio to assess the situation of the project Chronicle of Georgia, which started in 2016. The project implies cleaning, sorting, restoration and transferring archive material to digital support. The studio has a unique documentary collection of 25,000 boxes of films reflecting the history of Georgia in the 20th century. The current 12,000 boxes were technically developed, cleaned, and transferred to 1 minute digital format in 2018.
In 2018 the second edition of the Georgian Cinema Forum was held in Kutaisi. The event was organised by the Ministry of Economy of Georgia and the GNFC. Also in 2018 a workshop for film critics and bloggers was held in Kutaisi. The workshop was organised by the Creative Europe Desk Georgia.
The project Film at School started in 2014. According to the data of 2018, a total of 800 schools from all regions of Georgia participated and 9,800 screenings took place since 2014. School students watch films, discuss around them and learn to make short films with the help of professionals. The project has won the Cinema Education contest (EACEA-14-2017 FILMEDU) in the framework of Creative Europe and it is also part of the project The Film Corner Reloaded - A Cultural Approach Together with Foreign Partners, organised by Fondazione Cineteca Italiana.
Leading TV companies continue to produce TV series. The most popular 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 broadcasting 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.
Iberia TV stopped broadcasting in 2018.
The most popular domestic online platform is Myvideo.ge, a video sharing platform providing live streaming for dozens of TV channels.
Report by Alexander Gabelia (2019) Sources: the Georgian National Film Centre, Cinemas: Rustaveli, Amirani, Cavea Tbilisi Mall, Cavea East Point