Georgians at Berlinale - Three Georgian Feature Films & One Animation Fight for Victory

If there is anything good about Georgia, it’s our culture. Within 10 years, the rising tendency of Georgian art house is becoming more and more apparent, affirmed by the success of this year: one animation and three feature films as nominees of the Berlin Film Festival 2017. 

In 1983, the Georgian animation film “Misfortune” won the Golden Palm. And now, after 33 years, Natia Nikolashvili’s debut “Lile” is the nominee at Berlinal, to be screened in the section ”Generation”. “’Lile’ is a10-minute short film shot over two years. This is a phantasmagorical story of one girl who will save one dark day, “Natia Nikolashvili noted.

“The section ‘Generation’ of Berlinale was created for the young audience under and above the age of 14," Vladimer Kacharava, producer, explained. "Our animation was chosen for the age category of 11-14. Most of the jury members are children, too. I did not expect Berlinale but I knew that the film would find its own way to the European and American market. We were doing it in accordance with the standards of festivals in general. The world that Natia created is very interesting and visually rich. We plan to make a full-length animation in future.’       

Davit Vashadze, representative from Georgian National Cinema Center, gives a short review of why Georgian animations and films were stopped temporarily: “It was due to the black 1990s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, when there was no perspective or funds to shoot films. However, within the past 10 years and more, our center has a clear strategy with the concrete aim for the Georgian cinema to position in the global film industry with author cinema. We are very glad that on this prestigious festival, we represent one animation and three feature films. Animation was particularly damaged after the collapse, as it is usually more expensive than feature film or documentaries. Therefore, we had a special strategy to restore the school of Georgian animation. We started it by developing projects, workshops, etc. As a result, the quality of our animation is very high and this is proved by the selection of ‘Lile’ at Berlinale.”    

The feature film by Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Grosse called “My Happy Family” was named as the pearl of Sundance festival and is now to fight for victory in the category “forum” at Berlinale. The movie premiered recently at Sundance, the most prestigious film festival in the United States. “Sundance is the festival of author films and is totally free from political opinions," Vashadze says. "Therefore, the films selected there bear high artistic value. An article was also written about it in the US, mentioning it as one of the best films of 2017. This is a purely Georgian story that the authors have managed to retell in such a tongue that they made it comprehensible for all parts of the world. I think that the audience will also enjoy it a lot.”     

All the mentioned films obtained funding abroad and represent official co-production, as the finances have been spent in Georgia. The above film is a Georgian-German-French co-production. “There was a slight problem: German films are usually premiered at Berlin’s festival, but considering the fact that they liked the movie very much, they [made an exception].”

The second film that the global audience will see is Rati Oneli’s “City of the Sun”. Rati used to reside in the US and this is his debut, a feature-documentary film about his home town Chiatura. There is one very interesting character – a theater actor who is paid very poorly and who is obliged to work in the mines to earn money. “The film already enjoys very interesting resonance and is often asked for repeat screenings and therefore, we have hope that it will succeed. We make around 4-5- full-length feature films per year and around 80% of them are premiered at A-class film festivals,” Vashadze adds.

The third film is Reziko Gigineishvili’s film “Hostages” about the tragedy of 1983, when the young generation of elite society tried to kidnap an airplane as a sign of protest against the Iron Curtain that existed in those days in the Soviet Union and nobody could travel out of it. “Rezo got interested in this topic 8 years ago and began the research. It is a very serious theme for the whole country,” said Vladimer Kacharava, producer of the film. This is a Georgian-Russian-Polish co-production. From the Polish side, the producer is Ewa Puszczyńska, the author of “Ida”, a Polish film that won in the category of the best foreign film at the Oscars 2015. The film will be shown in the section “Panorama”.  

Specialists refrain from making prognoses, as no one ever knows what will happen. The 67th Berlin International Film Festival will take place from February 9 to February 18. We are looking forward to it and wish Georgia success! Of course, the nominations themselves are a big victory already!


 By Maka Lomadze




31 January 2017 12:34