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FNE INTERVIEW with Tatia Bidzinashvili, Head of Film in Georgia: Georgia Stays Competitive With Lowest Taxes and Flexible Cash Rebate System Featured

2019-03-08
Tatia Bidzinashvili, Head of Film in Georgia Tatia Bidzinashvili, Head of Film in Georgia

TBILISI: The “Film in Georgia” 20-25% cash rebate programme was launched at the beginning of 2016. We spoke with Tatia Bidzinashvili, Head of Film in Georgia about how the programme went so far.

FNE: How has the programme evolved up to this moment?

Tatia Bidzinashvili: First of all let me greet you on behalf of Enterprise Georgia, the state agency under the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, facilitating the film industry development in the country.

Today we are more than happy to say that despite the short time since the launch of the programme, the incentive has already attracted 20 international productions, out of which 15 have already been completed. The total amount of investment is up to 13.2 m EUR / 40 m GEL and the rebate already realised is up to 991,000 EUR / 3 m GEL.

Most of the projects are Georgian/European (France, Germany and Italy) coproductions, Indian projects shot entirely in Georgia, two US and one UK project.

It’s remarkable that the very first Georgian film benefitting of the Georgian rebates, My Happy Family (2017) by Simon Gross & Nana Ekvtimishvili premiered at Sundance, screened at the Berlinale and has its distribution rights purchased by Netflix. The US production Halo of Stars by Anthony Lucero starring Lily Collins, Holliday Grainger and Stacy Martin was released in 2019. We take pride in the fact that our beneficiary Girls of the Sun by Eva Husson was nominated for the Palm d’or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

Georgia offers international producers not only financial incentives, but also flexible and transparent services. The state programme also implies the one-stop-shop principle, on the basis of which we are ready to support international producers in obtaining permits, in communication with the public sector, finding the desired locations and supporting all the issues related to the shooting.

FNE: How many foreign productions have applied for the cash rebate in 2019?

Tatia Bidzinashvili: In 2019 we have already registered three international projects and we are planning to have more than 15 projects during this year. We do believe that “Film in Georgia”, coupled with the country’s geographic and architectural diversity, business-friendly environment and low level of bureaucracy, ensures a pleasant and productive filmmaking experience.

Georgia gained the confidence of international producers very fast as all the previously implemented projects have been successfully completed. This was important not only for the programme, but also for the country, which offers infrastructure, highly qualified staff, diversified locations, a welcoming society and most importantly flexible and transparent tax and state benefits.

Most importantly, since the programme was established only two years ago, international producers have a unique chance to discover untapped locations and to shoot in the mountains or at the seaside in a short time.

FNE: Are there any plans to increase the cash rebate in the near future?

Tatia Bidzinashvili: According to Forbes Tax Misery Index, we are ranked as the country with the 4th lowest tax burden after Hong Kong, UAE and Qatar. Our financial incentive gives international producers the opportunity to receive back much more money than they really pay in taxes. We do understand that some countries are increasing their tax rebate rates permanently, but Georgia still stays competitive as we have the lowest taxes and a very flexible cash rebate system.

FNE: How important is it for Georgia to coproduce and to service the shooting of European productions?

Tatia Bidzinashvili: Coproducing European productions stays our main priority, for sure. Throughout these years, “Film in Georgia” has presented Georgia’s potential as the preferred Eastern European filming destination through participation, support and organisation of important, industry focused shows and festivals.

Based on the above mentioned, we've achieved incredible results in two years, provided many coproductions with leading European countries, achieved great interest on the Asian market, hosted American projects, and we are preparing for the best.

FNE: How do you see the “Film in Georgia” programme five years from now?

Tatia Bidzinashvili: We hope that Georgia continues to gain the status of the most desirable location in Eastern Europe in a similar pace, and that more successful projects will be included in our portfolio.

The Following Films and TV Series Used the ”Film in Georgia” Programme:

2019:

Venice (Georgia) directed by Rusudan Chkonia, produced by LLC Nike Studio
Rocketry The Nambi Effect (India) directed by Ranganathan Madhavan, produced by Ranganathan Madhavan, Gaurav Mishra and Smriti Jain, and serviced by Betterfly Films
Let It Snow (Russia) directed by Stanislav Kapralov, produced by Serhi Lavrenuki and serviced by LLC FX Films.

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 (Georgia) 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. Shot entirely in Georgia
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
Missing Emily (Georgia) directed by Padraig Reynolds, produced by MISSING EMILY LLC and serviced by MISSING EMILY LLC.

2017:

My Happy Family (Germany, Georgia, France) directed by Simon Gross and Nana Ekvtimishvili, produced by augenschein Filmproduktion GmbH in coproduction with Polare Film Llc and Arizona Production
Halo of Stars (USA) directed by Anthony Lucero, produced by the American companies Hunter Image Media and St. Tisa, serviced by Misty Dawn
Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety (India) directed by Luv Ranjan, produced by India Shoots and serviced by Sarke Studio
PSV Garuda Vega (India) directed by Praveen Sattaru, produced by Jyostar Enterprises PVT Ltd, GFIG, and serviced by Sarke Studio
Gautamiputra Sakatarni (India) directed by Krish Jagarlamudi, produced by First Frame Entertainment and serviced by Sarke Studio
Daddy’s Girl (USA) directed by Julian Richards, produced by SG Films and serviced by Sarke Studio
Girls of the Sun (France, Belgium, Georgia, Switzerland) directed by Eva Husson, produced by Maneki Films in coproduction with Wild Bunch and Arches Films, Gapbusters,  20 Steps Productions and  Bord Cadre films
How to Sell a War (Ireland, Georgia) directed by Rudolph Herzog, produced by the Dublin-based Film and Music Entertainment (IRE) in coproduction with 20 Steps Productions
Negative Numbers (Georgia, France, Italy) directed by Uta Beria, produced by Magnet films in coproduction with Tbilisi-based Alief, Wide Management and  39Films

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