A Frog, Environmental Protection & Georgian Animation

For the first time in the history of Georgian animation, Georgian film has found itself in the competition category at the Annecy international festival. The opening night of ‘Geno’ took place in France, mid-March, at the aforementioned festival. It is the first 3D animation to be created in Georgia and is the first ambassador to continue the history of Georgian animation on a world scale.

The history of Georgian cartoon began in the 1920s and it reached a peak in the 1960s. Thanks to musical and artistic virtues, Georgian animation achieved a lot of success.

The Annecy festival counts a history of 57 years and is considered to be the most prestigious contest among animation festivals. The first Georgian animation film that found itself at the festival is among 200 animations chosen by the jury.

Dato Kiknavelidze is a 27-year-old young director who has managed to establish his own studio. After the short-film ‘Vacuum,’ ‘Geno’ is his second production, created with the cooperation of the Georgian National Film Center. A couple of years ago, ‘Geno’ won the Robert Film Prize. “I love nature and couldn’t stand silently by while these blocks of flats were being build and recreation zones were being destroyed in Tbilisi,” Kiknavelidze told GEORGIA TODAY.

“I was jumping with joy for the next three days,” Kiknavelidze told us of his reaction to the news of Geno’s success. He is one of the youngest, if not the youngest of all, director among the authors of the selected films.

“This is like the Cannes festival for feature films. It’s not only a festival but also a space for business meetings. It’s a serious platform,” he says, adding that, by means of original music and sound effects, his animation teaches children to protect the environment, and awakens adults, too.

“Geno is a frog who lives in a pond. People start to build blocks around his home, which reflects the reality in Tbilisi. The pond gets smaller and smaller. The animation depicts two themes: the ecological one, which is very topical, as the recreation zones are destroyed. The second is social. We are saying that human beings should not isolate themselves from friends in order for us to survive,” the director confides. In order to prove the truth of the last statement, all the neighbors of Geno unite, forgetting their differences, with the common goal of defeating this boom in construction, and to save their homes and lives. Purportedly, this is also an animation about the transformation of a selfish frog into a friendly one.

“We firmly believe that in spite of the fact that until very recently, neither cinema society, nor the government was interested, Georgian animations have a bright future,” Zurab Maghalashvili, Director of the National Film Center, told GEORGIA TODAY. “Nowadays, the interest is also there from the Ministry of Education and Science. My belief concerning the good future of Georgian animation is affirmed by the fact that all the films, without exception, have acquired international resonance. There are many more to come”.

Dato Kiknavelidze plans to shoot a full-length version of ‘Geno’. The premier of the short will take place in June, at the Annecy Animation Film Festival. It has already been invited to 20 different festivals, including those of Europe, Asia and the United States of America. Consequently, following the premier, it will see the screens of different parts of the world; good news for Georgia in terms of promotion. Georgian audiences will be able to watch ‘Geno’ at the end of June preceded by a special event and exhibition.

According to experts, the tendency of progress and awakening in the field of animation films, the school of which was once so strong in Georgia and which was stopped in the post-Soviet collapse of the 1990s, is obvious. Besides ‘Geno,’ Ana Chubinidze’s ‘Pocket Man’ also participated at the Annecy Festival. Prior to it, the first Franco-Georgian animation premiered in New York and later acquired two prizes in Canada at the Montreal International Film Festival. This year was fruitful, with Mamuka Tkeshelashvili’s stop-motion ‘Sunset’ also premiering at the Annecy Festival and Natia Nikolashvili’s animation ‘Lile’ premiering at the Berlinale. Congratulations, Georgians and Georgia!

Maka Lomadze

13 April 2017 20:50