RUSSIA SET TO RETURN GEORGIAN FILMS
After years of negotiations, Moscow has agreed to send Georgia the original films, cartoons and animations that have been kept in the Russian archive since 1937.
It took nearly two decades of negotiations, but hundreds of Georgian films are finally coming home.
An estimated 1000 original Georgian films will be sent to Tbilisi from Gosfilmofond, the Russian film archive - a diplomatic victory, according to Zurab Abashidze, the Georgian Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Relations with Russia.
A scene from the Georgian film Repentance
Entire History of Georgian Cinema
The originals of all Georgian films made from 1916 and 1990 will be sent back to Tbilisi over the course of six to seven years, according to Abashidze, who was able to secure the deal over the past two years.
The films are currently held in Gosfilmofond, the Russian archive created in 1937, when Georgia was part of the Soviet Union. To date, Georgia is the only former Soviet republic in the Caucasus to secure the return of its original films.
The copies of four films have already been given to Cultural Minister Mikheil Giorgadze: The Last Hour by director Mikheil Chiaureli; Holtze and Amerikanka by Leonard Esakia; and a documentary piece - Buba - by Georgia's first female director Nutsa Ghoghoberidze.
Abashidze said it was not difficult to secure the films' return. "I can negotiate with Gregory Karasin, Russia's Special Envoy to Georgia on such issues. What we cannot agree on is the problem of Abkhazia and South Osetia," Abashidze told Investor.ge.
"Currently, all the history of Georgian film is preserved in Russia, all we have is there, and the importance of this process cannot be exaggerated. The Russians who work at Gosfilmofond were happy with this decision because they are people who love film and know the value of such heritage," says Zurab Maghalashvili, director of the Georgian National Film Center.
Georgian cinema dates back to 1908 and is recognized by international film critics for its unique vision during the Soviet period. The films held in the Russian archive include classics from the golden age of Georgian cinema.
A scene from the Georgian film Blue Mountains or Unbelievable Story
Logistics and Costs
Nana Dolidze, a program coordinator in the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, told Investor.ge that a special committee composed of film critics, copyright experts, and the heads of both the Georgian National Archive and Georgian National Film Center have discussed the film archive transferring project and all related technical details.
"We will need six to seven years to transfer all the negatives from Russia's Gosfilmofond to Georgia. The estimated number of films is 706, but there might be animated or documentary films we do not know about yet. We divided this process into several phases. Ten films should be in Georgia by the end of this November," Dolidze told Investor.ge. Negatives transferred from Russia will be preserved in the building of the National Archive of Georgia until the Ministry builds a special storage building. Since Georgia has not had any experience of working on the project like this, the Ministry met with the head of the French Film Archives several months ago and received some recommendations.
The exact time frame for the transfer has not been set, and the total cost is still unknown, according to Dolidze.
"Georgia has a chance to create a special lab specializing in film and become the leader in the South Caucasus region," she said.
Georgia's Greatest Hits
Georgia has a long history of powerful and celebrated cinema.
Here is a list of some of the most famous films made by Georgian directors:
1. Keto and Kote (1948)
2. Magdana's Donkey (1956)
3. Skhvisi shvilebi (1958)
4. Father of a Soldier (1965)
5. Didi mtsvane veli (1967)
6. Arachveulebrivi gamopena (1968)
7. Pirosmani (1969)
8. Sherekilebi (1974)
9. The Wishing Tree (1977)
10. Repentance (1984)
11. Blue Mountains, or Unbelievable Story (1983)
12. Pesvebi (1987)
13. Street Days (2010)
14. In Bloom (2013)
15. Tangerines (2013)