Eldar Shengelaia – The kind of Georgian tragicomedy
15 September, 2017
Eldar Shengelaia – The kind of Georgian tragicomedy
Eldar Shengelaia (born on 26 January 1933) is a prominent Georgian film director and screenwriter. He is considered one of the most celebrated stars of Georgian cinematography.

The director earned recognition worldwide for his ironic films and satirical comedies, through which he voiced his
anti-Soviet messages.

Shengelaia was awarded the titles of the People's Artist of Georgia (1979) and of the Soviet Union (1988) that was considered a big achievement and honor at that time. The prominent director has put a significant contribution in Georgian cinematography through his tragicomedies, masterful technique and individual vision.

In 1978 he was awarded a “Best Director” prize at Cairo Festival. It is noteworthy that Eldar Shengelaia’s films have been internationally recognized and gained worldwide fame. His movie Blue Mountains was included in the Cannes Classics category at the 67th Cannes Film Festival in 2014. The famous Georgian filmmaker personally knew many world-renowned stars including Marcello Mastroianni, a famous Italian actor, as well as Robert De Niro. During their visit to Georgia, Shengelaia welcomed them with big pleasure and showed Georgian hospitality at best.

Sergei Parajanov and Eldar Shengelaia

“Tears filled Marcello’s eyes and as the interpreter told us, Mastroianni was muttering to himself that he had never been received with such love in Italy as he was met in Georgia”, Shengelaia recalls.

On his 83rd birthday he received his own star on the walk in front of Rustaveli cinema marking his immense contribution in Georgian cinematography.
Eldar Shengelia was born in Tbilisi, the capital of then Soviet Georgia to the family of the film director Nikoloz Shengelaia and actress Nato Vachnadze, one of the most beautiful Georgian women.

Eldar is known for a number of tragicomic films and here we present to you the most distinguished ones that are integral part of Georgian cinema.


Arachveulebrivi Gamopena (An Unusual Exhibition)

In 1969, Shengelaia gained a widespread recognition with the satirical tragicomedy Arachveulebrivi Gamopena (An Unusual Exhibition). The ironic tragicomedy is about a provincial sculptor.


Sherekilebi (Eccentrics)

Sherekilebi (Eccentrics) 1973, is yet another famous film by Shengelaia. The film is about a parable of grotesque realism. The characters are dreamers and eccentrics, who oppose the realities of the system.

He also directed films on fairy motives – Frozen Heart Legend and Snow Fairy Tale Together with Alexi Skharov.

In the company Georgian Film, together with Tamaz Meliava, film director and screenwriter, he directed “White Caravan” – a poetic story about a human and his labor, about attitude to the traditions.

In 1965 he directed a short film Mikela,unfolding the sad story of one big family suffering with incurable disease.


Samanishvili’s Stepmother

In 1977 he directed Samanishvili’s Stepmother, by the scenario of David Kldiashvili’s story, where he stressed the negative features of human personality. The director unfolded adventure and a quite tragic destiny of the characters using a delicate humor.
Tsisperi mtebi anu daujerebeli ambavi (Blue Mountains or Unbelievable Story)

In 1983 he directed a satire comedy Tsisperi mtebi anu daujerebeli ambavi (Blue Mountains or Unbelievable Story), expressing problematic situation and absolute anarchy at work, characteristic to the Soviet Union.

The script of the movie is as follows: An author - a passive young man - enters the Soviet-controlled bureaucracy of Georgia attempting to get his novel published, yet he is neglected and compartmentalized at every turn.
Blue Mountains or Unbelievable Story won the All-Union Film Festival Prize in 1984 and the USSR State Prize in 1985.

After achieving this great success, Eldar Shengelaia became involved in the Georgian independence movement which became popular in 1989. In the 1990s, Shengelaia returned back to the cinema and produced two films which were positively received by critics but did not attract a broader public attention.

Eldar Shengelaia is also the author of movie The April 9 tragedy. The April 9 tragedy refers to the events in Tbilisi, Georgia, on April 9, 1989, when a peaceful anti-Soviet demonstration was dispersed by the Soviet Army, resulting in 21 deaths and hundreds of injured demonstrants.

On April 12, 2009, Shengelaia was awarded St. George's Order of Victory, one of the highest civil awards of Georgia, for participating in the investigation of and having shown to the world the truth about The April 9 tragedy.

Related stories:

Marcello Mastroianni’s unforgettable time in Georgia

Marcello Mastroianni and Eldar Shengelaia – Meeting of cinematography luminaries in Tbilisi

The Close-Knit World of Georgian Filmmaking Emerges From Obscurity - The Wall Street Journal

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