Culture
Georgian film festival led by women directors takes place in London
04 May, 2018
Georgian female directors are gaining more and more recognition internationally. Recently, emerging directors Ana Urushadze and Mariam Khatchvani triumphed at Beijing International Film Festival, where 4 main prizes out of 10 were handed over to Georgian films.

This time, Georgia 100: A Film Fest Feast takes place in London with half of the films showing directed by women, leading English newspaper The Guardian reports.

Georgia 100: A Film Feast is being held at Regent Street Cinema, London, on 1-8 May
2018.

“Half of the films showing are directed by women. The festival has become a focus for the explosion of female film-making talent in Georgia, with a new generation of women making movies challenging gender roles in the country’s rigidly patriarchal society,” reads the publication.
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Georgian director Nana Ekvtimishvili. Photograph: MathiasBothor 2014/Georgia 100

The festival was opened with writer-director Nana Ekvtimishvili’s film My Happy Family, uncovering the story of a middle-aged wife and mother who lives in a patriarchal society. She decides to pack up and leave her family on the eve of her 52nd birthday.

Manana, the lead character twigs that after 25 years as a devoted wife and mother, it's her time to shine, and she declares her intentions to shake things up and get her own apartment.
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My Happy Family. Photograph: Georgia 100

“Sick of being wife, mother and general dogsbody, Manana walks out on her family. On TV, an Orthodox priest in long black robes sermonises about female meekness: “Happy is the family with a peaceful mother who sacrifices herself to her family and raises children,” The Guardian tells about the plot of My Happy Family.
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A picture from My Happy Family

The journalist of the British newspaper talked with emerging Georgian director Nana Ekvtimishvili about the women’s rights in Georgia and asked if there is a rising feminist movement to correspond to the recent crop of women directors.

“No,” she answered, “It’s a pity, but that’s my impression. There are women’s rights organisations and individual activists. Great women, great voices. But there is no strong feminist movement. Still, in this society people think of feminism as against our Georgian tradition, as something dangerous.”
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Still from My Happy Family

The festival will be closed with another successful Georgian project Scary Mother, a film directed by 27-year-old Ana Urushadze. The film itself is yet another drama about a middle-aged woman who tries to find her own place among the society and achieve her goals. In this case, she tries to achieve it by writing a novel.
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A picture from Scary Mother

The Guardian also stresses another film by female Georgian director Elene Naveriani, who made her 35-minute drama The Gospel of Anasyrma in 2014, but could not screen it in public in Georgia, because of widespread hostility to LGBT activists.
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Ana Urushadze, the winner of 2017 Locarno Film Festival

“The film begins as a sweet, tender love story between a man and a transgender woman (played by actor and trans activist Bianka Shigurova). But a happy ending is out of the question in the climate of homophobia and transphobia,” reports The Guardian.

The author of the article notes that Naveriani uses shocking real-life TV footage of a 2013 protest against an LGBT rights rally in Tbilisi, when “priests were leading a mob of thousands against a tiny group of LGBT activists, who had to be bussed out of the city by police for their safety.”
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Bianka Shigurova in The Gospel of Anasyrma. Photograph: Georgia 100

As young female director told The Guardian, the protest was a wake-up call for the community. “For me and a lot of LGBT people it felt that this kind of violence was legitimised somehow. The state was silent. A lot of people left Georgia. I’m not there anymore. You feel like your life is absolutely doomed. We have anti-discrimination laws, but they don’t change anything.”

As The Guardian reports, the tradition of women making films in Georgia goes back to the 1920s, when Nutsa Gogoberidze became the first female Georgian film director at the age of 25; she was sent to the gulag during Stalin’s purges.
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Nutsa Gogoberidze. Creator: Salome Alexi

According to the journalist Cath Clarke, neither woman she talked to has an explanation for the growing success of female directors in Georgia right now.
“I don’t know why we are so many,” says Naveriani. “But I think it’s really important that women are telling their stories. We need a female gaze, you know.”

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