TBILISI: Georgia had a great year with more awards at international festivals and more attention given to Georgian films. Georgian cinema days were held in Brussels, Rome, Boston, Poland and Jordan, and Georgia was a Focus Country at the 2019 Valladolid International Film Festival and the Manaki Brothers Film Festival.
Thirteen projects were supported in 2019 in the framework of the Film in Georgia programme. Their total spent increased by 500 percent from 12 m EUR / 36 m GEL in 2018 to 60 m EUR / 192 m GEL in 2019. More than 4,000 local cast and technical crew were employed.
Gaga Chkheidze was appointed head of the Georgian National Film Center (GNFC) in May 2019.
Under a deal signed with the film archives of the Russian Federation in 2016, hundreds of films made from 1921 to 1991 are to be returned to Georgia. Their Kingdom directed by Mikheil Kalatozishvili and Nutsa Ghoghoberidze is among the films returned in 2019. At this stage, 57 Georgian films are back in Georgia.
Dito Tsintsadze's Shindisi was selected as Georgia’s entry for the 92nd Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ award in the best international feature film category.
Eight Georgian feature films were produced and finished in 2019, according to the GNFC. All of them are supported by the GNFC.
Five of them were screened at the Tbilisi International Film Festival: Negative Numbers (international premiere at Arras FF), written and directed by Uta Beria and produced by Magnet Films, The Pig (international premiere at FilmFestival Cottbus), written and directed by Giga Liklikadze and produced by Sarke Studio, Golden Thread written and directed Lana Ghoghoberidze and produced by 3003 Film Production, Comets written and directed by Tamar Shavgulidze and produced by Nushi Film (international premiere at Toronto IFF), and Inhale- Exhale (international premiere at Shanghai IFF, two awards in the main competition), written by Nestan (Nene) Kvinikadze, directed by Dito Tsintsadze and produced by Cinetech Film Production.
The Criminal Man, co-written and directed by Dimitri Mamulia and produced by Millimeterfilm, was completed and had its premiere at the Venice FF within the Horizons competition programme in 2019.
Other films are almost ready for their premieres. The list includes the new feature film by Zaza Urushadze Anton, produced by Georgian International Films LLC in coproduction with Insightmedia from the Ukraine and Cinevision Global from the USA, and Otar’s Death directed by Ioseb Bliadze and produced by Eva Blondiau through Georgia’s MAISIS PERI in coproduction with Color of May from Germany, Studio Artizm (Lasha Khalvashi) from Georgia and M-Films (Marija Razgute) from Lithuania.
Nine short films were shot in 2019 and all of them are already completed: The Empty Table directed by Goga Kobalia and produced by Visual Arts Center, Summer directed by Giorgi Mukhadze and produced by Takes Films, Bad People directed by Giorgi Tavartkiladze and produced by 20 Steps Productions, Krimanchuli Thiefs directed by Khatuna Khundadze and produced by Abkstudia, Sweaty Towels directed by Alexander Kviria and produced by Takes Films, Marx Street 12 directed by Irine Jordania and produced by Studia Kedar, Refugee directed by Irakli Solomonashvili and produced by Nali, and When Butterflies Begin to Fly directed by Bekar Jguburia and produced by Irakli Chikvaidze.
Seven documentaries were completed in 2019: Dead Souls Vacation directed by Ekaterine Chelidze and produced by Parachute Films, Circle directed by Alexander Rekhviashvili and produced by Rati Rekhviashvili, How to Become Georgian directed by Natia Arabuli-Weger and produced by EBC Film Studio, A Tunnel directed by Nino Orjonikidze and produced by ArteFact (international premiere at IDFA), Lost 8½ directed by Vakho Varazi and produced by Nali, And the Others directed by Davit Gurgulia and produced by Studio123, Twelve Lessons directed by Giorgi Mrevlishvili and produced by MAC Georgia, Harvest directed by Mikheil Antadze and produced by NAPR Cinemark, and Aznash Laman directed by Nona Giunashvili and produced by B-A-T studio Ltd.
Four animated films were produced in 2019: Trauri directed by Petre Tomadze and produced by ADF, Raven directed by Alexander Katamashvili and produced by 20 Steps Productions, Franzy's Soup-Kitchen directed by Ani Chubinidze and produced by Pocket Studio, and Abandoned Village directed by Mari Kapanadze and produced by Tsotne Kalandadze. Only Trauri was already finished by the end of 2019, the rest of them were in production or postproduction.
The following films and TV series were shot under the Film in Georgia programme in 2019: Venice a Georgian/Swiss/Norwegian coproduction directed by Rusudan Chkonia, produced by 20 Steps Productions in coproduction with Akka Films and Ape&Bjørn, and serviced by Nike Studio Ltd; Rocketry The Nambi Effect (India) directed by R.Madhavan and Prajesh Sen, produced by Tricolour Productions and Varghese Moolan Pictures and serviced by Betterfly Films; The Other Me (Georgia) directed by Giga Agladze, produced by The Fun Group and serviced by BA Production; Sakartvelo (Georgia) directed by Nikoloz Khomasuridze, produced by Lost Legends and serviced by Sakartvelo Films Ltd; Naked Sky / Daisi (Georgia) directed by Dea Kolumbegashvili, produced by Rati Oneli and serviced by Cinema-Architecture Office; The Resting Samurai a Georgian/Dutch coproduction directed by Levan Tutberidze, produced by the Georgian company Alamdary Films and coproduced with Windmill Film’s Annemiek van der Hell (the Netherlands) and supported by the Georgian National Film Center with EUR 132,000 / GEL 400,000, the Georgian Public Broadcaster, UPP (Czech Republic) and Silk Factory Studio (Georgia); Kargil Girl (India) directed by Sharan Sharma, produced by Dharma Productions and serviced by Betterfly Films; The Lady of Heaven (UK) directed by John Stephenson, produced by Mattew Kuipers and serviced by Sarke Studio LLC; Doubleman a Thai TV series produced by Thai company Kanthana Motion Pictures and serviced by Georgian Film Production; Fast & Furious 9 (USA) directed by Justin Lin, produced by Original Film and Universal Pictures, and serviced by Enkeny Films; Field directed by Lasha Tskvitinidze, produced by Nodar Nozadze through Pansionati in coproduction with Nushi Film (Tekla Machavariani) from Georgia; It Is Not Milk (Visual advertising, UK) directed by Conor Byrne through Hungry Man, and serviced by Sarke Studio LLC (Georgia).
The Film in Georgia programme rebated the first US studio production in Georgia, Fast & Furious 9, with 7.9 m EUR / 25.3 m GEL. The project used more than 2,000 locals in its 30 days of shooting (19 August - 21 September 2019) in Tbilisi. This has been the biggest international film production so far for Georgia.
“It was the first US Studio production filming in Georgia, and the responsibility on us was huge to convince Hollywood that the country is ready to host large-scale productions, in terms of flexibility of doing business in the country, as well as qualifications of Georgian film crews. Today we have multiple upcoming projects with different US studios. The contacts that we have acquired in this process during the last two years give us the vision and the opportunity to create a strategy that will give us a stable, developed film industry in the long run. Along with production services, creating our content is one of our main directions as a company. We are currently developing a couple of scripts, at the same time having negotiations with film financiers in the USA and London. We believe, in a couple of years we will be able to become an important hub for filmmaking in this part of the world”, Sophio Bendiashvili, Enkeny Films Managing Partner, told FNE.
The total investment of all 13 projects shot under Film in Georgia amounts to 60 m EUR / 192 m GEL so far. More than 4,000 local cast and technical crew were employed.
The Film in Georgia team plans to continue the active promotion of Georgia abroad, including participation in major industry events (AFCI, AFM Location Expo, Focus Expo,Winston Baker Film Finance Forum), meetings with major studios, location managers and independent producers, as well as familiarisation tours to Georgia, in order to introduce filming locations and existing relevant infrastructure in the country.
“The programme Film in Georgia is the main motivator for attracting international projects to Georgia. Our country has all the major advantages in order to be competitive in the world, such as various locations, flexible and simplified processes, lack of licenses for filming, competitive prices, film friendly society and more. However, the fact that the state supports the film industry and offers 20% cash rebate to companies, makes them more interested”, Tatia Bidzinashvili, Head of the Film in Georgia Cash Rebate Programme, told FNE.
“We have brought more experience and real results to the Hollywood market, which gave us more confidence in 2019. Representatives of Universal Picture gave us recommendations and spoke about the positive emotions surrounding filming in Georgia. They also made a presentation to the Motion Picture Association of America, where Georgia met with great interest and we are currently negotiating three major projects“, Tatia Bidzinashvili also said.
The agency also hosts Hollywood producers every year and it organises FAM tours to discover Georgia as the most attractive location of Eastern Europe. Also, during the year, the agency organises official Georgian stands at a number of cinematic markets.
New Georgian films were successful at festivals and nine of them were theatrically released in 2019.
The Georgian National Film Center (GNFC) made its 14th appearance at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2019. GNFC and the Ministry of Economy agency “Produce in Georgia” jointly presented a stand of Georgia at the European Film Market (EFM). The Georgian Pavilion, besides promoting Georgian films, promoted the Film in Georgia programme among the foreign filmmakers interested in shooting in Georgia.
The premiere of Armed Lullaby, an animated film directed by Yana Ugrekhelidze, was held in the Generation section of the Berlinale in 2019. Yana Ugrekhelidze is a Georgian animated film director who lives in Germany. The film was produced by Kunsthochschule für Medien (Germany) and is based on a real story that happened in 1993 during the Sukhumi ethnical cleansing against Georgian civilians.
Giorgi Shvelidze, the cinematographer for Georgia’s Academy Award bid Namme by Zaza Khalvashi, won the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Spotlight Award in Los Angeles in 2019. Giorgi Shvelidze also became a member of the American Motion Picture Academy in July 2019.
Nino Zhvania's and Misho Antadze's film premieres were held at the Rotterdam IFF in January 2019. Parade directed by Nino Zhvania received the Best Feature Award in the Georgian Panorama at the Tbilisi IFF 2018. Misho Antadze’s documentary The Harvest collected the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC)’s Award at the Jeonju IFF in Seoul in May 2019. The film premiered at the Rotterdam IFF.
GNFC participated in the Cannes Film Market for the 12th time. The Soviet Georgian feature film The White Caravan (1963), directed by Eldar Shengelaya and Tamaz Meliava and produced by Georgian Film, returned to the big screen at the Cannes Film Festival, 55 years after its first screening, as part of the Cannes Classics programme.
The Swedish/Georgian coproduction And Then We Danced directed by Levan Akin and produced by French Quarter Film and Takes Film has its world premiere in the Directors’ Fortnight section in Cannes 2019.
Dito Tsintsadze's Shindisi has been selected as Georgia’s entry for the 92nd Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ award in the best international feature film category. The film was produced by Georgian 20 Steps in coproduction with Free Movie Studio (Georgia), with the financial support of the Georgian National Film Center.
In October 2019, Shindisi received the Grand Prix at the 35th Warsaw Film Festival.
Dimitri Mamulia's The Criminal Man premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 2019. It was produced by Georgia’s Millimeterfilm in coproduction with Russia’s Kinokult.
Film director, screenwriter, journalist and actress Nino Kirtadze is the new representative of Georgia in Eurimages. According to the Georgian National Film Center, 15 Georgian foreign coproductions have received support since 2011, the year when Georgia joined Eurimages. Click HERE for an FNE interview with Nino Kirtadze.
Salome Jashi's project Trees Floating (Switzerland, Germany, Georgia) produced by Mira Film Basel in coproduction with Corso Film and Sakdoc Film, and supported by the Georgian National Film Center, received 50,000 EUR / 160,000 GEL from Eurimages in October 2019.
Under a deal signed with Russia (Gosfilmofond, the film archives of the Russian Federation) in September 2016, hundreds of films made from 1921 to 1991 are to be returned to Georgia. The first four films returned in November 2016 under the project Return of Georgian Heritage to Homeland, 11 films returned in 2017, 18 films returned in 2018 and another 17 returned in 2019.
Among the films returned in 2019 there is Their Kingdom directed by Mikheil Kalatozishvili and Nutsa Ghoghoberidze. At this stage 57 Georgian films are back in Georgia. The process of returning Georgian films to their homeland will continue in 2020 and the priority will still be Georgian films of the 20s. After the completion of this phase, the Georgian film heritage from this period will be fully returned to its homeland.
EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE
The first Dolby Atmos system cinema in Georgia opened in Tbilisi on 30 November 2017. The six-screen Cavea Galleria Tbilisi with 700 seats is the fifth cinema in the Georgian capital.
There is also one chain of multiplexes, the privately owned Rustaveli/Amirani Movie Theaters consisting of Cinema Amirani LTD (four screening halls, 679 seats) and Cinema Rustaveli LTD (five screening halls, 858 seats) in Tbilisi, and also Cinema Apollo LTD (one screening hall, 154 seats) in Batumi. Cinema Rustaveli LTD closed in July 2018 and its future destiny is unclear.
Rustaveli/Amirani Movie Theaters also runs Film Distribution LTD and Light Bank LTD, two divisions dealing with film production.
The new multiplex Cavea City Mall with 886 seats opened in 2019. CAVEA also runs CAVEA IMAX, with 10 screens including an IMAX screen, and CAVEA MOLI, with five screens.
There are currently six cinemas in Georgia with 35 screens (including one IMAX). All except one screen are digitalised.
A total of 163 films were screened in cinemas in 2019.
The 2019 admissions top ten is topped by Avengers: Endgame with 64,494 admissions, followed by Joker (63,064 admissions), The Lion King (35,833 admissions), Aladdin (34,652 admissions), Frozen 2 (34,446 admissions), Maleficent 2 (34,220 admissions), The Grinch (28,898 admissions), Captain Marvel (28,872 admissions), Spider-Man: Far from Home (25,740 admissions) and Aquaman (25,272 admissions).
The most successful Georgian films in cinemas in 2019 were: Shindisi directed by Dito Tsintsadze, with 23,722 admissions and 74, 250 EUR / 237,603 GEL gross, And Then We Danced directed by Levan Akin, with 5,899 admissions and 22,707 EUR / 72,665 GEL gross, and Izzy and the Magician directed by Khatuna Giorgobiani and produced by Giga Production, with 4,103 admissions and 10,490 EUR / 33,568 GEL gross.
Total admissions increased by 1.34 percent from 1,298,404 in 2018 to 1,359,365 in 2019.
Total gross increased by 4.1 percent from 4,006,124 EUR / 12,018,372 GEL in 2018 to 4,145,123 EUR / 13,264,395 GEL in 2019.
Admissions to domestic films decreased from 55,495 in 2018 to 37,865 in 2019.
Domestic box office decreased from 137,007 EUR / 411,022 GEL in 2018 to 119,979 / 383 934 GEL in 2019.
GRANTS AND LEGISLATION
A new director of the Georgian National Film Centre was appointed in May 2019. Gaga Chkheidze is the founder and the director of the Tbilisi International Film Festival. In July 2019 FNE spoke with Gaga Chkheidze about his goals and the challenges facing Georgian cinema.
The Georgian National Film Centre handles cinema strategy and allots state funding. The total amount of funding in 2019 was 1,660,043 EUR / 5,017,359 GEL. The GNFC gave out 1,407,709 EUR / 4,223,128 GEL in 2018.
In February 2019 the GNFC gave out 400,000 EUR / 1.2 m GEL for the production of four feature films.
In April 2019 the GNFC allotted 393,333 EUR / 1.18 m GEL for the production of four international coproductions.
The Low Budget Feature Film and Debut Feature Production Grants were announced by the GNFC on 30 June and 9 July 2019. The total amount of grants was 516,453 EUR / 1,549,359 GEL.
In September 2019 the GNFC allotted 120,000 EUR / 360,000 GEL for the production of six long and one short documentary.
In September 2019 the GNFC gave out 142,187 EUR / 455,000 GEL for the production of nine short films.
The grants for short animated films were announced on 11 October 2019. The total amount of grants was 88,064 EUR / 273,000 GEL.
Georgia launched its coproduction scheme for feature films in 2010 and a new call for documentary coproductions in March 2014.
The tax incentives programme, which went into operation in 2016, offers a 20% cash rebate on qualified expenditure with an additional rebate of 2-5% based on the promotional value of the production.
The minimum limit of qualified expenses is approximately 190,000 EUR / 500,000 GEL for feature films, TV films, TV series/mini-series or animated films, and approximately 114,000 EUR / 300,000 GEL for documentaries, commercials, reality shows and music videos.
The programme has two stages. After shooting wraps in Georgia, 20% of qualified expenditure is automatically returned to the production company. When the film is finished and released, it is assessed according to pre-defined criteria (Georgia is mentioned as an acting place on the script level, well-known locations are used, etc.) for the additional 2-5% rebate. Both Georgian and foreign projects may participate.
No cultural test is required in order to apply for the initial 20% rebate, and the rebate also applies to key non-resident salaries paid in Georgia. The online application is valid for two years.
The Regional Film Fund of Adjara, on the Black Sea coast, launched in 2012, is also expected to boost the film initiative.
On 24 February 2015 Georgia joined the Creative Europe Programme.
In 2019 the third edition of the Georgian Cinema Forum was held in Bakuriani. The event was organised by the Mountain Resorts of Georgia and the GNFC. Creative Europe Desk Georgia and the Borjomi Municipality were among the partners.
The project Film at School started in 2014. According to data from 2018, a total of 800 schools from all regions of Georgia participated and 9,800 screenings took place since 2014. The project covered 90 schools and held a total of 1,024 film screenings in 2019. School students watch films, discuss them and learn to make short films with the help of professionals. The project won the Cinema Education contest (EACEA-14-2017 FILMEDU) in the framework of Creative Europe and became part of the project The Film Corner Reloaded - A Cultural Approach Together with Foreign Partners, organised by Fondazione Cineteca Italiana (Italy), The Film Space, (UK), The Nerve Center (Northern Ireland), the National Cinèmatheque of Serbia (Belgrade, Serbia), Kino Otok (Slovenia) and the University of Milano Bicocca, Dipartimento di Scienze Umane per la Formazione Riccardo Massa (Italy).
Leading TV companies continue to produce TV series. The most popular TV series in Georgia are: Friends of My Wife / Chemi Tsolis Dakalebi (Broadcasting Company Rustavi2), In the City / Shua Kalakshi (Imedi) and Around Us / Chven Gverdit (Maestro). The new Georgian TV series No address / Misamartis Gareshe started broadcasting on Imedi in 2019.
Private channels Broadcasting Company Rustavi 2 and TV Imedi are usually the producers of TV series. Public Broadcasting – First Channel also produces documentaries. TV channels do not fund independent film production as a rule; it depends on the individual case, according to sources from GNFC.
Three new TV channels opened in 2019: Mtavari Arkhi, Formula TV and Post TV.
The most popular domestic online platform is Myvideo.ge, a video sharing platform providing live streaming for dozens of TV channels.
Report by Alexander Gabelia (2020) Sources: the Georgian National Film Centre, “Film in Georgia”, Cinemas: Rustaveli, Amirani, Cavea Tbilisi Mall, Cavea East Point