Georgia has a rich film tradition, with the Grusia-Film-Studios in the capital Tbilisi having a considerable share during the USSR era. In recent years, Georgian feature films are gaining international recognition in the film festival circuit again.
Our selection focuses on current long feature films and short films. Additionally, however, we wish to convey at least a brief insight into Georgian film history. This is represented by two Soviet silent film masterpieces: the avantgarde satire CHEMI BEBIA by Kote Mikaberidze (accompanied live on grand piano by Dudana Mazmanishvili), banned in the year of its première 1929, and the expressive portrait of a people living an isolated life in the Caucasus mountains in DZIM SVANTE by Michail Kalatasow from 1930. PIROSMANI by Giorgi Schengelaia about the legendary Georgian painter Nikola Pirosmani from 1969 is also a cinematic pleasure to (re)discover.
When it comes to the choice of current productions, the inclusion of one of the most significant directors in contemporary global cinema from Georgia, Otar Iosseliani (born in 1934), is a must. We are showing his latest film, WINTER SONG, shot in Paris. It is a marvellously poetic, later work with a youthful freshness in the greatest sense of the word. The eminent Georgian directors George Ovashvili and Zaza Urushadze are represented with their latest productions. It was important to us to present current films by female directors. The excellent works by Rusudan Glurjidze (THE HOUSE OF OTHERS), the debut film-maker Mariam Khatchvani (DEDE), Ana Urushadze (SCARY MOTHER was the Georgian candidate for the Best foreign language film, Academy Awards 2018) and the director couple Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross (MY HAPPY FAMILY) are all representative of this.
Two DEFA productions from 1973 and 1987 shot in Georgia are a rediscovery: the black-and-white documentary ICH KOMME AUS DEM TAL (I COME FROM THE VALLEY) by Hans Eberhard Leupold and the full-length documentary IN GEORGIA by Jürgen Böttcher. We are delighted to be welcoming the two directors and the cameraman Thomas Plenert. A reading by Nino Haratischwili and a photo exhibition by Wolfgang Korall as well as an appearance by the "Young Georgian Lolitaz” during the opening of the festival complete our guest country programme.
Only a few Georgian films are regularly exhibited in German cinemas. It is with this in mind that, as part of our industry conference, we are taking the opportunity to discuss along with experts the chances and risks of German-Georgian co-productions using the current movie VOR DEM FRÜHLING.
We have been supported particularly by Zviad Eliziani, artistic director of the Batumi International Arthouse Film Festival, in putting together the extensive programme of short films. We are delighted that he will also be attending as a guest. We would also like to thank the Georgian Embassy in Berlin for its support as well as the Georgian National Film Center in Tbilisi, Hugendubel book shop, the MV Foto e.V. in Schwerin as well as the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
Volker Kufahl, Jürgen Tobisch