Issue 1, 2014. February-March

   

MY CITY, TBILISI: GEORGIAN FILM BACK IN THE INTERNATIONAL SPOTLIGHT

For the past year, Investor.ge has brought you a series of six guides about Tbilisi, from what to do with children to a tour of the city's 1930s architecture. In this series, Investor.ge speaks with locals about different neighborhoods and events in the city in a six-part series to bring Tbilisi's grand history, graceful streets, and great cultural life alive for all readers, whether local, expat, or visitor. Investor.ge welcomes readers' input; if you have any ideas or suggestions for the series, please contact the editor.

In Bloom - Georgia's submission for Best Foreign Film in the 2014 Oscars

Film in Georgia has had a glorious history - Georgian cinematographers have been on the cutting edge of film making since the silent movies of the early 1900s.Now, after nearly 20 years of struggle, there is hope it is on the brink of its big comeback.

Today, movies like "In Bloom," - Georgia's submission for Best Foreign Film in the 2014 Oscars - "Tbilisi, I Love You," and "Tangerines" are pushing Georgian cinema back into the international spotlight.

While Georgian film has struggled for nearly two decades, all has not been silent on Georgian sets: committed film makers like Tina Gurchiani (The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear), Nana Jorjadze (A Chef in Love), Alexander Kvatashidze(See You in Chechnya), KetevanMachavariani (Salt), GiorgiOvashvili (The Other Bank), LevanTutberidze (Trip to Karabakh) - and many, many others - have been producing award winning work for years, despite little financing or support.

But the transition to the post-Soviet international film industry has not been an easy one. Today, however, with some successful international collaborations and cinema festival circuit winners, the business of Georgian film making is starting to gain traction.

And, if the latest success, "In Bloom," is any indication, the future will be bright. Written and directed by Nana Ekvtimishvili and her husband/co filmmaker Simon Gross, the 2013 film about two girls growing up in Tbilisi in the gritty days of the 1990s, has already won a dozen international awards, including prizes at the Paris Cinema International Film Festival and the 48th Karlovy Vary International Film festival.

Sherekilebi (a Georgian classic)

Nika Agiashvili, who, together with his father Davit, brought Hollywood actors Ron Perlman and Malcolm McDowell to Tbilisi, said he believes Georgia is "coming up" in the international film community. The Agiashvili family is pushing Georgia past the art cinema scene to a wider audience with "Tbilisi, I Love You," a montage of ten films that is part of the international "City of Love" franchise that has produced "Paris, I Love You" and "New York, I Love You."

"I think a lot of good movies are being made now, I think that we have some very talented directors and film makers. We believed that when we first started making the project a year and a half ago," he said.

"I think things are looking better, I think there have been quite a few international productions - some that have been publicized some that haven't been much publicized... I think Georgia is coming up."

But after decades of producing film financed by the state, whatthe Georgian film industry needs now is more business sense, Agiashvili said.

"Here they are used to the government funding the movies so there are very few private investors...when it is a foreign investment...you have to return this investment. You have to look at it creatively and business wise," he said.

Father of a Soldier (a Georgian classic)

"Here,you look at it a little bit more from a creative stand point...which is great for a director but it is not so great for producers and investors."

To develop the industry as a business, Georgia Film, the birthplace of Georgian film, brought on Gela Andrew Suli as the new CEO in 2013. Suli noted that at the end of the Soviet period, the movie industry in Georgia was a major employer, with a reported over 2000 people working, making movies, film sets, scripts, and musical scores. In a just a few years, however, it had shrunk to nothing.

The job now, he said, is to turn the history of Georgian film - the brand of Georgian film - into a profitable business. To do that, Georgia Film is undergoing a top to bottom audit, determining what the studio still owns and what property it can use. Georgia Film is also in consultations with the Ministry of Finance to draft a law to help attract foreign film productions to Georgia.

"Georgia has a lot of potential ...there are very good ingredients you can sum up and get people to come here and make movies," Suli said. "We have to develop the service sector, we start from there."