Georgia’s Cinema to Get a Boost at Fajr Int'l Film Festival

The Fajr International Film Festival in Tehran, in its 36th edition this year, features George Ovashvili’s recent masterpiece “Khibula”, spearheading a selection of Georgian films for the festivals' subtheme Retrospective of Georgian Cinema.

The festival annually gathers movie critics, young moviemakers and film enthusiasts, since 1982 publicizing new Iranian features alongside a selection of foreign pieces. With the support of the Iranian government, the festival has over time turned into an important media event, often taking place on the anniversary of the Iranian revolution.

The political, hair-raising work of Khibula perfectly dramatizes the last days of Georgia’s first president, Zviad Gamsakhurdia. With a budget of €1,525,011, the film enjoyed the support of major producers such as Guillaume de Seille, Eike Goreczka and Christoph Kukula, while Ovashvili completed the troika as an independent producer himself.

Written by Ovashvili and Roelof Jan Minneboo, Hossein Mahjoub stars in the principal role as President Gamsakhurdia, having played in The Dream of Water by Farhad Mehranfar and The Kingdom of Solomon by Shahriar Bahrani.

Set in the town of Khibula, it sees the President feeling constantly watched by his bodyguards as well as his political enemies. He fears an attack on his personal life. At the same time, the townspeople are ambiguous in their support for the President as his stay causes fierce debates among them. The partial backbiting complicates the situation, leading to a standoff where friend and foe is indistinguishable.

The trailer’s sinister yet sarcastic beginning quickly turns into a political farce of intrigue and conspiracy. Walking constantly on the edge of life, the viewers’ attention is captured by the rapidly changing dangers the President faces, unknowingly hoping that none of them is his final blow.

After Rusudan Glurjidze's award-winning and Oscar-nominated film was screened at last year’s festival and received high acclaim by critics and the wider audience, the festival decided to focus an entire section on Georgian movies, having negotiated five feature-length films produced in 2017 and one in 2016 with the National Cinema Center in Georgia.

“New talent and high-quality works are emerging in Georgian cinema," said Director of FIFF International Communications Department, Kamyar Mohsen. "We have been watching these movies closely, which are significant and different. This cinema is not known to many viewers. So we decided to initiate this program and provide a major boost to the Georgian film industry. You have to watch these films on the silver screen to appreciate their beauty and wonder.”

The Fajr International Film Festival will take place from April 19 to 27 in Tehran. The other five movies are yet to be announced.

By Benjamin Music

Photo: Scene from Khibula

09 April 2018 20:58