“I would love to repeat some films but we don't have the money”

GEORGIA TODAY met Festival Director Gaga Chkheidze to discuss the recent Tbilisi Film Festival and the Georgian film industry.

How would you sum up the 17th Tbilisi International Film Festival?

I'm happy if the screenings are well attended. That was mostly the case, although it is of course hard to bring people into the cinema for a film by an unknown director. Personally, I liked the program “Bios Politikos” with a beautiful selection of political films. It was definitively a political year with the elections in Georgia and in the USA, and with the Brexit referendum. I was impressed by the engaged discussions after the screenings.

What could you have done better?

We can improve on technical and organizational things. The lightning of the stage in front of the screen was insufficient, even at the closing ceremony. And we had some problems with the microphones which we had to rent.

Some screenings were overcrowded, with people even sitting in the aisle. Why don't you organize a second screening of the movies?

I would love to repeat certain films. But we don't have enough money to do so. For example the rights for “I, Daniel Blake,” Ken Loach's new film, cost us about 1000 Euro – a price defined by the Russian distributor who owns the rights for Georgia. We just couldn't afford a second screening. In general, our budget was lower because of the weak GEL. We get our money in GEL from the State and from sponsors, but our expenses are in Euro or Dollar.

Does that mean that you can’t expand your program in future?

It will be difficult because culture isn't a high priority for the government, even though culture is a way for Georgia to attract foreign tourists. We are trying to find new funding for the Industry Days. We organized this program for young Georgian filmmakers for the third time this year, and I think it's very important for them. We would love to enlarge this part. That's why we want to talk with the Film Center and the Ministry of Culture about a separate funding which would also make it easier for the regular film program because at present the Industry Days are financed from the normal festival budget.

Lukas Mäder

08 December 2016 21:22