19th Tbilisi Int’l Film Festival, December 3-9

One of Georgia’s favorite cultural events, the Tbilisi International Film Festival, opened in the capital of Georgia to bring together Georgian and foreign filmmakers, critics and film enthusiasts of all ages. The main theme of this year's Tbilisi Film Festival, the 19th edition, is “Literature.”

The opening ceremony kicked off with festival director Gaga Chkheidze telling the audience about the presented sections and reminding them to expect numerous important screenings and interesting meetings within the frames of the festival. The opening was attended by Italian Ambassador in Georgia Antonio Enrico Bartoli since the focus country of this year is Italy. Numerous Italian films are being showcased, among them ‘Happy as Lazzaro’ by Alice Rohrwache featuring Georgian actor Luka Chikovani in one of the leading roles.

On December 8, the winners of Silver Prometheus for the best directing and Golden Prometheus for the best film will be revealed. In the National Competition, Georgian directors will be awarded in three categories: feature, documentary and short films.

Besides the official awards of the festival, last year the EU established a special prize: the EU Human Rights in Film Award. This will be awarded to one of the seven films that depict Human Rights, selected from across the festival in order to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human rights.

‘Georgian Panorama’ will be judged by Erika and Ulrich Gregor, Co-founders of Arsenal, the German Institute for Film and Video Art and Berlin Film Festival International Forum of New Cinema, and Spanish film critic Eva Peydró. The international Competition jury comprises Lithuanian filmmaker Raimundas Banionis, Nima Javidi, Archil Kikodze, Kanako Hayashi, and Celine Nusse.

This year’s Tbilisi Film Festival, besides presenting a diverse program of movie screenings, offers the audience inspiring workshops as well as meetings with renowned international directors. The guest of honor at the festival is British filmmaker Peter Greenaway, creator of the films ‘The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover,’ ‘8 ½ Women,’ and ‘Prospero's Books.’ Greenaway held a free-to-attend master class on December 7 at the headquarters of TBC Bank.

Yet another celebrated festival guest is Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa whose films were screened in the special section Director in Focus. The director’s latest movie ‘Donbass’ was presented at Amirani Cinema on December 5. The film unveils the degradation of post-Soviet society, showcasing the war-torn separatist regions of the Donbass. The film, which was banned from Russian cinemas, won the ‘Un Certain Regard’ award for Best Director at Cannes and was selected as the Ukrainian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards.

After the screening of Donbass at Amirani Cinema, the Director was awarded a special prize, the Prometheus of Honor. During his visit, the filmmaker once again stressed that Ukraine and Georgia have a common enemy: Russia, noting that both countries feel the same about their occupied territories and the tense situation in the regions.

“Our territory is still occupied by Russia; the war has lasted almost five years. We, Ukrainians and Georgians understand each other very well, and we both know what it is like to live under the pressure of the Russian Empire. Few films were shot during the Soviet rule uncovering that period, yet since then this theme got forgotten and almost none of the directors thought about bringing it up again. It is crucial to me as a director to fulfill my main mission and show the reality to the public,” Loznitsa said.

Another prize of honor went to distinguished Georgian film director Giorgi Shengelaia whose film ‘Alaverdoba’ was screened. Alavedroba (1962) was the first work of the iconic Georgian filmmaker and a feature-documentary film based on the same-titled novel by Guram Rcheulishvili, where the main character stands against distorted traditions.

GEORGIA TODAY talked to Bacho Odisharia, a well-known Georgian film critic, who attended and watched a number of movies within the festival.

“The atmosphere at the festival venue is great and it is a good fact that many people in Tbilisi unite not to protest something but to watch movies. The Tbilisi International Film Festival is essential for Georgia’s cultural life, and we should expand it and establish alternative festivals. Through developing and perfecting the existing festival, the event will become of high importance not only for our country but at an international level,” he said. “Among the competing films I would single out ‘Boys Cry,’ an Italian drama film directed by Damiano and Fabio D'Innocenzo. The film mirrors the Italian ghetto life and how the criminal world has swallowed society. The film does not romanticize the criminal world, as usually happens in crime movies, but on the contrary portrays becoming a gangster as a tragedy. I was also impressed by the film ‘Our Time’ by Carlos Reygadas. It is truly a fascinating work from visual, aesthetic and musical perspectives, simultaneously uncovering intimate and interesting conversations about love.”

The festival also featured ‘Horizon’ by Georgian director Tinatin Kajrishvili. The director’s second feature had a World Premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival and on December 5, it was screened for the first time in Tbilisi. At the 10th anniversary of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, the film claimed the title of Best Narrative Film. The premier in Tbilisi was attended by the director, cast and entire crew, who after the screening answered the audience’s questions. Horizon focuses on the strain in the relationship of a couple once deeply in love and shows how the two undergo the process of separation.

The festival closes on December 9 with the premier of ‘The Favorite’ (2018) by Yorgos Lanthimos, featuring famous stars Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz in the leading roles.

The Tbilisi International Film Festival goes back to the 2000s. The festival was born within a larger art festival framework, with numerous supporters and sponsors. Later, in 2002, the festival transformed into a separate event and has gradually expanded over the years.

The mission of the festival is to present new works of high artistic value made in Georgia and worldwide to the public, as well as introduce new trends in world cinema to society and support the development of the Georgian cinema industry. Currently, the festival is considered one of the major cultural events attracting both a local and foreign audience as well as bringing famous directors to the capital of Georgia.

By Lika Chigaldze

Photo by Ryan Sherman

06 December 2018 18:13