Country of Georgia Makes Pitch to Become Major Filming Destination
13 February, 2018
Country of Georgia Makes Pitch to Become Major Filming Destination
Georgian cinema is an integral part of the country’s culture. Nowadays, Georgian cinema
is gaining international success at many film festivals.

Leading international media often reports about new successes of modern Georgian cinema and new heights reached by emerging Georgian directors. This time, weekly American magazine variety.com devotes the article to Georgian cinema and reports that “former Soviet Republic provides exotic locations never before seen by producers or audiences”.

According to the magazine, “Georgia, a rugged and beautiful nation nestled
between the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea, has made a concerted effort in recent years to attract international filmmakers to shoot in the country. Those that have already made the journey report that Georgia is now on their minds when planning future productions.”

The article tells about one foreign filmmaker who has long experience in Georgia - Phedon Papamichael, who was Oscar-nominated for American film director Alexander Payne’s film Nebraska. He first went to Georgia 19 years ago to shoot Georgian director Nana Dzhordzhadze’s film 27 Missing Kisses, and recently shot for 15 days in the country for Levan Koguashvili’s Brighton 4 which is now moving to Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach to complete the story about a Georgian Olympic wrestler visiting his son in New York.
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Phedon Papamichael

As Papamichael recalls, during his first visit in Georgia in 1999, the country was like “Wild West,” with crumbling infrastructure and antiquated equipment, but the people were incredibly charming. The director now has a home in Georgia and is married to a Georgian.

According to the article, foreign director is impressed by fundamental changes made in the country’s infrastructure, including improving the roads and building world-class hotels. Additionally, the movie sector has been enhanced with modern facilities companies, international-standard production service outfits and crews, who mostly speak English.

“I would be comfortable using an entirely local crew,” he says.
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A scene from the movie Brighton 4

He intends to put that into practice on his next film in Georgia, a comic road movie called “Good Company,” which he plans to direct in the fall. “There’s a lot of potential here. It’s a very exciting time for them (Georgians).”

Mike Downey is another foreign director who has working experience in Georgia. He co-produced three films in Georgia and is about to start a fourth, Rudolph Herzog’s “How to Sell a War.” The shootings will start in Georgia on March 16. It is also noteworthy that How to Sell a War is First Irish-Georgian co-production.
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Mike Downey

As Mike Downey notes, “There is a very can-do approach to all aspects of production and a willingness to get to grips with the real problems of production on the ground.”

Turkish director Tolga Ornek is prepping a TV show to be shot in Georgia, thriller The Syndicate, about a heroin crime syndicate stretching from Afghanistan to Europe. Georgia will double for Afghanistan, many parts of Turkey and Europe, and will probably be the main unit base.
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Tolga Ornek

Tolga Ornek is also impressed by local crews and the country’s safety. “You can hire fantastic local crews,” Ornek says, “Georgia is extremely safe, incredibly friendly, and corruption-free.”

Among the foreign films to shoot in Georgia recently was French filmmaker Eva Husson’s Girls of the Sun, which centers on a battalion of Kurdish female fighters. The Georgian co-producer is 20 Steps Prods.
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Girls of the Sun. Photo courtesy ELLE DRIVER

The author of the article stresses the film My Happy Family, directed by Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross.

“Many of its films are European co-productions, assisted by its membership of funding body Eurimages. Among last year’s successes: Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross’ “My Happy Family,” which premiered at Sundance, and was one of five Georgian films at last year’s Berlinale, where it was acquired by Netflix” – the article reads.
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A scene from the movie My Happy Family

In Berlin’s Panorama section this year is another Georgian film, Tinatin Kajrishvili’s “Horizon,” a co-production with Sweden.

Georgian filmmaking traditions are also evaluated, as modern Georgian cinema is based on these rich traditions exactly. As an example, variety.com names Georgian director Mikhail Kalatozishvili’s film The Cranes Are Flying, which was shot in USSR, 1957. The Cranes Are Flying was Soviet cinema’s first international hit after World War II. This unusual black-and-white film’s expressionist images tell the tragic story of two lovers after Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union.
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The Cranes Are Flying (1957)

The film claimed the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival, the only Soviet film to win that award.

The Cranes Are Flying will be screened in the section Berlinale Classics at Berlin International Film Festival section. It is also noteworthy that Another Georgian director Ana Urushadze’s film Scary Mother will open Critics Week at Berlinale. Critics’ Week will be held in Berlin on February 14-22. The 68th Berlin International Film Festival will end on 25 February.
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A scene from the movie Scary Mother

“Georgian cinema is building on a filmmaking tradition reaching back through the Soviet era, such as Mikhail Kalatozov’s 1958 Palme d’Or winner The Cranes Are Flying, which was recently restored and will screen this year in Berlin” – American magazine informs its readers.

Read full article at variety.com

Related stories:

Georgian director’s film Scary Mother to open Critics’ Week at Berlinale

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Top Georgian films addressing the main issues of past and present

Georgian director’s My Happy Family already available on Netflix

Shooting of first Irish/Georgian feature film to start in March

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