FNE Focus: International Success of Georgian Filmmakers


    The history of the success of Georgian Cinema dates back to the late 1920s, when a group of filmmakers made films which went on to become classics of Georgian Cinema. Director Kote Mikaberidze shot the film "Chemi Bebia" ("My Grandmother"), which is included in all the film archives of the world. In 1930 Mikheil Kalatozov (Kalatozishvili) screened the feature-documentary film "Jim Shvante" ("Salt to Svaneti") which was acknowledged as a world masterpiece of silent documentary.

    The further success of the Georgian film was due to the establishment of the Georgian Film Studio and the emergence of a generation of talented young directors and screenwriters. In 1956 the feature film "Magdana's Lurja" ("Magdana's Donkey"), directed by Tengiz Abuladze and Rezo Chkheidze, earned short film Special Distinction at the Cannes Film Festival and first prize at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. That same year another feature film by Abuladze, "Someone Else's Children", won awards at international film festivals in Helsinki (Finland), London (UK) and Tehran (Iran). In 1958 the film "The Cranes Are Flying" by Mikheil Kalatozov (Kalatozishvili) became the first film of the Georgian director to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes.

    The late 1960s and the 1980s is considered the golden age of the Georgian film industry. The film "The Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors", by Sergey Parajanov, achieved international success and won the British Film Academy Award and Moscow Film Festival Prize in 1966.

    Within this period international success was achieved by several short films which have a traditional and special place among Georgian films. The most distinguished ones produced in the golden age of the Georgian cinema are "Wedding", which won the Grand Prize and FIPRESCI Prize in Obrsrhausen in 1965, and "Umbrella", which won the Grand Prize and FIPRESCI Prize in Krakow in 1967. Both films were directed by Mikheil Kobakhidze, known for his silent short films.

    In 1984, "Chiri" ("Tchouma") the animated film by David Takaishvili and David Sikharulidze, won the Palme d'Or for the best short film at Cannes Film Festival.

    In 1979 the film trilogy of Tengiz Abuladze brought him another international success: In 1967 "Vedreba" ("Plea") won the Grand Prize at the San Remo Film Festival, in 1976 "Natvris Khe" ("The Wishing Tree") won the David of Donatello Award for best foreign film, it was also honored at film festivals in Riga (Latvia), Tehran (Iran) and Moscow (Russia). The feature film "Monanieba" ("Repentance"), released in 1987, became one of the most popular films of the period, winning the Grand Prize of the Jury, FIPRESCI Prize and the Ecumenical Jury's Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1987 (the film was nominated for the Palme d'Or). In 1988 the film also won Nika Awards (Moscow, Russia) for best film, best director and best screenplay. In the same year the film was nominated in the best foreign language film category of the Golden Globe Award (USA).

    Another successful Georgian director who has achieved international success is Otar Iosseliani, whose films won prizes across Europe: in 1966 his film "When Leaves Fall" won the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes Film Festival. In 1976 "Pastoral" ("Summer in the Country") earned him the FIPRESCI Prize in Berlin. Apart from the films produced with Georgian Film Studio his films shot abroad achieved huge international success: "The Favorites of the Moon" (1984) and "Let it be the Light" (1989) won the Special Jury Grand Prizes at the Venice Film Festival. His later film "Brigands-Chapter VII" won the Special Grand Prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1996 and the Nika Award for the best director nomination category in 1999.

    In the same year the film "Farewell, Home Sweet Home" won the FIPRESCI Prize at the European Film Awards. The film "Monday Morning" won the FIPRESCI Prize and the Silver Bear for the best director at the Berlin Film Festival and the Golden Arena Award for the best film at the Pula Film Festival in 2002. In 2007 he achieved another international success at the Mar del Plata Film Festival, winning the Special Jury Award for his film feature film "Jardins en Automne".

    In 1980s a new wave of international success came when director Temur Babluani's film "The Sun of Sleepless" won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 1993.

    In 1987 Nana Jorjadze won the Camera d'Or in the Un Certain Regard Competition at the Cannes Film Festival for the film "Robinzoniada, or My English Grandfather". Her "27 Missing Kisses" won the Prix Tournage at the Avignion Film Festival in 2000 and Special Prize of the Jury at the Brussels European Film Festival in 2001. Her film "Thousand and One Recipes of a Chef in Love" was nominated for the Crystal Globe Award at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in 1996 and for the American Academy Award for the best foreign film category in 1997.

    Among the Georgian filmmakers producing film abroad in the recent years, Gela Babluani and his internationally successful feature films "Tzameti" ("Thirteen") and "The Heritage" (together with Temur Babluani) deserve special mention:

    • Two prizes at the Venice Film Festival in 2005 ("Tzameti")

    • FIPRESCI Prize at the Transylvanian International Film Festival in 2006 ("Tzameti")

    • Grand Jury Prize in the category of World Cinema-Dramatic at Sundance Film Festival in 2006 ("Tzameti")

    • Award in the category of a Discovery of the Year, European Film Awards, 2006 ("Tzameti")

    • Was nominated in the category of the best first work at the Cesar Awards, France in 2007 ("Tzameti")

    • Grand Jury Prize in the category of World Cinema-Dramatic at Sundance Film Festival in 2007 ("Heritage", together with Temur Babluani).

    Nino Kirtadze's documentary film "Un dragon dans les eaux pures du Caucase" won the best documentary award at the European Film Awards and Grand Prize at the Nyon Film Festival (Switzerland) in 2005. Another documentary of hers, "Durakovo: Village of Fools" won a directing award in the category of the World Cinema - Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008. Her latest documentary, "Something about Georgia", won the award at the Nyon Film Festival in 2010.

    In 2006, "Graffiti" a short film by Vano Burduli earned him a Special Prize from Cottbus Film Festival of Young East European Cinema, in 2007 Grand Prize at the Montpellier Mediterranean Film Festival, Grand Prize from Aye Aye International Film Festival and Youth Jury Award - Special Mention from Aix-en-Provence International Short Film Festival.

    Since the national film support system has been in place in Georgia (establishment of the Georgian National Film Center) yet another generation of filmmakers emerged, who have gradually been achieving international success. "Tbilisi-Tbilisi", a feature film by Levan Zakareishvili has participated in the number of international film festivals achieving following success:

    • Grand Jury Prize for the best director at the XIV International Open Film Festival of CIS and Baltic Countries "Kinoshock" held in Anapa (2005)

    • Prize for the best music at the International Film Festival in Montpelier (2005)

    • Special Jury Award at Eurasia International Film Festival in Almaty, Kazakhstan (2005)

    • Two Prizes for the best film and best director at the Ashdod International Film Festival in Israel (2006)

    • Grand Prize ("Golden Lily") at Central and East European Films Festival "Go East" in Wiesbaden, Germany (2006)

    • Nika at the Moscow Film Academy Award (2006)

    • The film was screened in the Director's Fortnight program at Cannes Film Festival in 2005.

    "Three Houses", directed by Zaza Urushadze, was screened in the section "Focus on World Cinema" of the 32nd Festival of World Cinema in Montreal in 2009.

    In 2009 "The Other Bank" a film by George Ovashvili made the rounds of many international film festivals. It was premiered at the Generation Kplus program at the Berlin Film Festival. In the same year the film was awarded at the following film festivals:

    • Grand Prix ("Gold Lily") at Central and East European Films Festival "Go East" in Wiesbaden (Germany)

    • Grand Prize of the Jury at the 35th International Film Festival in Seattle

    • Grand Prize for best full length feature film at the third Film Festival Cines del Sur (Southern Cinema) in Granada

    • Prize of International Jury at the 7th international film festival Paris Cinéma

    • Grand Prize and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the Yerevan International Film Festival "Golden Apricot"

    • The film was nominated at the European Film Academy Award in the category - "European Discovery"

    • Three awards at the International Film Festival - "Golden Orange" in Antalya: for best direction, best male actor and the Prize of the Jury of the Film Authors' Association for Best International Film.

    • Prize for the best full-length feature film at the 39th International Film Festival "Molodist" in Kiev.

    Vano Burduli's feature film "Conflict Zone" won the Perspectives competition at the 31st International Film Festival in Moscow in 2009. The film was named best experimental and youth film.

    "Street Days", by Levan Koguashvili, released in 2010, was nominated for the best feature film competition program at the Rotterdam International Film Festival and Edinburgh International Film Festival (2010). The film was awarded the Grand Prize ("Golden Lily") at the Central and East European Film Festival "Go East" in Wiesbaden (Germany) and Tolorance Award and Special Mention of the Critics Jury Prize of the European Film Festival Palic in Subotica, Serbia.

    One of the recently produced co-production full length feature films "Chantrapas", directed by Otar Iosseliani (partially supported by the Georgian National Film Center), was premiered in the non-official program of the Cannes Film Festival in 2010.