Top Georgian films addressing the main issues of past and present
29 July, 2017
Top Georgian films addressing the main issues of past and present
Georgian cinema represents an integral part of Georgian culture. Georgian cinema emerged in the beginning of the XX century and counts over 100 years of existence under its belt.

Vasil Amashukeli , Georgian director was the pioneer who shot the very first film Akaki Tsereteli Travel in Racha-Lechkhumi" (1912). The first documentary film still preserved is the "Akaki Tsereteli Travel in Racha-Lechkhumi (Georgia’s northwestern region)" (1912), and the first feature film - Kristine (1919) by German Gogitidze.

The 1990s were static period in Georgian cinema. Due to financial crisis and unstable political situation, working on individual films was delayed for years. Many cinematographers gave up on their work. During this period Georgian cinematography underwent stagnation.

However, from 2000s the recovery process has started and nowadays, Georgian cinema is reaching new heights and gaining international success at many film festivals.

Here we want to offer you a list of some of the most popular Georgian movies directed over the past few years. These movies shot by young and talented directors have gone beyond the borders and gained recognition among many critiques. These films reflect Georgian reality of those years, everyday life, relationships, socio-economic problems, Georgian humor and sadness as well.

So, let’s start:

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Tangerines

Tangerines
(Georgian: Mandarinebi) is a 2013 Estonian-Georgian coproduction directed, produced and written by Zaza Urushadze. The film is a morality tale addressing issues of conflict, reconciliation and pacifism. It was filmed in Guria, Georgia.

It’s set in 1992, in the post-Soviet Caucasus, where Georgians are fighting a war with secessionist Abkhazians, backed by Russia. Ivo (Lembit Ulfsak) is an elderly ethnic Estonian who, with his friend Margus (Elmo Nüganen), is a tangerine farmer; they fear the fighting will destroy their entire crop. Disaster strikes, and Ivo finds himself having to offer tense hospitality to one wounded fighter from each side: Georgian Nika (Misha Meskhi) and Chechen mercenary Ahmed (Giorgi Nakhashidze). Ivo’s house becomes their shelter, and Nika and Ahmed must suppress their hatred of each other while Ivo suppresses panic about all his unpicked tangerines going to waste.

It is an amazing storyline: engaging, intelligent, and with some touchable accents. The movie is very sad and hard to watch though. Bloody war can destroy everything, but not the kindness and beauty of human’s soul – this is the main message of the movie. First of all, we
are all humans and not enemies. This movie makes you think about humanity, love and peace.

It was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards and was among the five nominated films at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards for best foreign language film.

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A Trip to Karabakh

A trip to Karabakh
(Georgian: Gaseirneba Karabaghshi) is a 2005 Georgian film directed by Levan Tutberidze and based on the 1992 novel "Journey to Karabakh" by Georgian writer Aka Morchiladze.

A group of boys from Tbilisi take a trip to Azerbaijan to buy drugs, and end up fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh War, when they are captured by Azerbaijani militants, with one being captured by the Armenians. During the course of events, the main character Gogliko (Misha Meskhi) has flashbacks to his relationship with his father, as well as a depressive prostitute.

The story of Gogliko and his friends is told in the very first film trilogy ever produced in the history of independent Georgia. In a departure from the first two films in the trilogy, the action in this third film starts in present-day Tbilisi. The movie opens with fateful events in 1994 for two friends: Gio (Levan Doborjginidze) is killed while Gogliko (Misha Meskhi) is imprisoned. After spending 15 years in prison, Gogliko is finally released. On his way home, Gogliko is engaged in conflict with a policeman and is sent back to prison. Gogliko’s argument with police and his attitude together with its finale is quite funny. In fact, there are many funny scenes in the film.

It is a kind of tragicomedy, a tragic story of young people destroyed by hardship, wicked environment, war and drugs. The way Misha Meskhi plays the role of Gogliko will definitely bring tears to one’s eyes. He is a symbol of his generation, lost and confused young people with good heart and bad behavior.

Awards:
Grand Prize (Kinoshok - Open CIS and Baltic Film Festival
FIPRESCI Prize (Tbilisi International Film Festival)
EFA (European Film Academy) Selection 2005

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Corn Island

Corn Island
(Georgian: Simindis kundzuli) is a 2014 Georgian drama film directed by Giorgi Ovashvili. The film tells about Abkhazian-Georgian relations. It is a story of an old man and his granddaughter, who live on a fertile estuary created every spring by the Enguri river (which forms the boundary between Georgia and Abkhazia).

Their peaceful lives are disturbed by border patrols from both sides creating tensions as they're passing by.

The old man shelters a wounded soldier who takes refuge on the island and protects him from his chasers for a time. At the end of the summer, flooding destroys the island.

Dialogue in the film is minimized. In fact, the actors do not speak at all. Turkish actor Ilia Salman and unprofessional beginner actress Mariam Buturishvili play the leading roles.

The struggle between human and nature and harmonious coexistence, protection of ideals and the desire to break the closed space, love story and Abkhazian-Georgian relations are the main themes of the movie.

“Corn Island” was selected as the Georgian entry for consideration for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards, making the January Shortlist. The film won the Crystal Globe prize at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

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The Other Bank

The Other Bank
(Georgian: Gaghma napiri) is a 2009 Georgian film directed by Giorgi Ovashvili. It tells us a sad story of 12-year-old boy, Tedo, who belongs to the generation of Internally displaced persons (IDP) from Abkhazia.

Tedo has to face many obstacles in life. Civil war has taken away the fate of everything that he has ever dreamed of. The film tells the story of Tedo's attempt to bring back hope and confidence within himself. Little boy's courage and strong personality is quite impressive. The way Tedo (his name is Tedo in reality too) plays his role is really amazing for his age.

The film was premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 7, 2009 in the competition "Generation". During 2009, the film was screened in up to thirty countries, at the Fifty International Film Festival.

Awards:
International Film Festival "Paris Cinema" (Paris, France) - The festival's main prize "METROBUS"
International Film Festival Cines del Sur (Granada, Spain) - Festival's main prize "Golden Alhambra"
Seattle International Film Festival (USA) - The Prize of the Festival "Jury Grand Prize"
Seattle International Film Festival (USA) - Film Critics International Association Prize FIPRESCI
Belgrade International Film Festival FEST 2009 - Jury Special Prize

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Street days

Street Days
(Georgian: Quchis dgeebi) is a 2010 Georgian drama film directed by Levan Koguashvili.

The main character of the film is a 45-year-old Georgian drug addict Chekie. Corrupt policemen demand from him to give information about 16-year-old school student, son of a childhood friend, Ika. If Chekie will agree, he will be rewarded with drugs and money, in another case a 10-year prison is guaranteed for him.
On the other hand, Ika himself asks Checkie to give drugs to him and his friends. There are problems in Checkie’s family as well. His wife is forced to leave the house because of bank debts. Finally, Checkie kills himself.

The movie is quite dramatic and hard to watch. It is a kind of Psychological drama.The name itself, “Street Days” is already a hint that the movie tells us about ordinary people’s hardship, drug addiction and crime.

Awards:
Rotterdam International Film Festival - Tiger Award
Edinburgh Film Festival - Rosebud Section
goEast Film Festival - Golden Lily, Best Film
Montreal World Film Festival - Focus on World Cinema
European Film Festival Palic - Tolerance Award
The film was selected as the Georgian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards, but didn't make the final shortlist.

Author: Bedisa Dumbadze

Related stories:

Georgian-Estonian film nominated for Golden Globe


Georgian film director among 9 New Directors You Need to Watch - NYT

Georgian movie among The Best Films at Berlinale 2017



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