The 10 best Georgian films from the past decade
JAMnews asked journalist and film expert Ninia Kakabadze to compile a list of the most important Georgian films of the last decade:
Soviet Georgian cinema had one common line – to express critical thoughts in a totalitarian state in the language of allegories and metaphors.
The totalitarian state collapsed three decades ago, but Georgian cinema is only now beginning to find a new language and new thoughts. For two decades, the camera simply captured serious social or existential issues and displayed them on screen. However, in recent years filmmakers have learned to distance themselves from problems, to reflect and see them globally.
While Georgian cinema filmed in the first decades of independence was close and understandable only to the local audience, then in the last year it has become more cosmopolitan. This is evidenced by the successes achieved at various prestigious international film festivals or in the international press.
These ten films are, in my opinion, the most interesting ones made in recent years.
Keep Smiling. Director Rusudan Chkonia, 2011
What the film is about: The film tells the story of a beauty contest for mothers. These are the stories of ten different women, including a mother with many children, the minister’s wife, a refugee, an ethnic non-Georgian woman, and others. The winner of the competition will receive an apartment and 25,000 lari.
Why it is important: This is the first film about women in modern Georgian cinema, their problems and everyday lives.
Although the director himself does not regard the film as feminist, Keep Smiling touches on the social and gender issues of modern women.
The film shows that the well-being of women and victory in competition in this particular case are again determined by men.
There is a scene in the film where women are taught to smile, remain in shape, not show their problems to anyone and smile – this is what society demands.
One of the main roles in this film is played by the former first lady of Georgia, the wife of the fourth president, Giorgi Margvelashvili, Maka Chichua.
‘Long Bright Days’. Directors: Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross, 2013
What the film is about: Georgia in the 90s – power outages, water cuts, queues for bread, high crime, riots, kidnapping and premature marriages, civil war and the sincere friendship of two teenage girls developing against the background of all this.
Why it is important: Many Georgian films were dedicated to the 90s, but this is one of the first, which not only describes, but also reflects on the reality of that time. The director of the film, who is herself a member of the 90s generation, is both distancing herself and at the same time conveys with amazing accuracy and depth the most difficult period of thirty years ago, when violence, robbery and murder were commonplace. The film clearly reflects the realities of an era when girls grew stronger in the generation of lost boys and, unlike them, grew up prematurely.
I’m Beso, directed by Lasha Tskvitinidze, 2014
What the film is about: This is a story about a teenage boy living in a village who dreams of becoming a rapper and also makes recordings on an old little dictaphone. He has to deal with an unemployed and dysfunctional cruel father, a tired mother, a struggle for power in the school and emptiness in the village.
Why this is important: we can say that Lasha Tskitishvili is a young director who travels from town to village for the first time and finds a hero living in the slums. “I’m Beso” can be safely attributed to a new social cinema in which the story of the protagonist and his environment are equally important. This is also the first Georgian film in which a homosexual protagonist (Beso’s brother) enters the plot not in a stereotypical and caricatured way, but with his real pain.
Credit Limit (Line of Credit). Director Nutsa Meskhishvili, 2016
What the film is about: The main character of the film is a young woman who lives with an elderly mother, husband and child. A family living in the Soviet Union turns out to be unprepared for the new era. To try and improve her living conditions, the main character of the film, Nino unwillingly gets entangled in a web of debts and loans.
Why it matters: Credit Limit is another Georgian film reflecting the theme of post-Soviet Georgia. This again includes the role of women in contemporary Georgian reality. A woman in a large family next to an incapable husband is the only one who is responsible for saving the family. Nino and her family tell the stories of thousands of people who could neither continue the old life of the Soviet era, nor create a new one. They are lost somewhere on the edge.
Name. Directed by Zaza Khalvashi, 2017
What the film is about: The plot of the film develops in the region of Mountainous Adjara, where fish with magical, healing properties lives in the courtyard of an elderly local resident, in a small pond. The construction of a new dam is underway in the village.
Why it matters: Zaza Khalvashi’s cinema is radically different from Georgian films of the last decade. The mystical story conveyed through poetic cinema creates a completely unique pictorial cinematic spectacle. The director takes the viewer for an hour and a half to a fairy-tale world, where nature and man create a harmonious environment, which modern civilization violates with the roar of a tractor. This is a film in which the image says more than a word, character or story.
My Happy Family. Directed by Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross. 2017
What the film is about: The main character of the film is a 52-year-old school teacher who lives in a family with her mother, father, husband, children and daughter-in-law. One day, for no particular reason, she decides to leave the house, rent an apartment and live alone.
Why it matters: The film by Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross is one of the most engrossing films about the problem of women in modern Georgia and in the traditional environment. Why leave home if you don’t have a lover or specific problems? ‘It’s a shame,’ what will the others say? My Happy Family is a purely feminist film that destroys the stereotype that a woman’s role is to be the keeper of the hearth, and it is difficult for us to admit that she can find her happiness in solitude and freedom.
Pig. Director Giga Liklikadze, 2019′
What the film is about: This is a film based on a true story. The director heard a story from a news release: the boy got lost in a strange village, climbed into the blackberry bushes and ended up in a strange yard. The owners of the house (two brothers) caught him, accused him of theft, put him in chains and demanded a ransom from the family.
Why it matters: If foreign audiences are interested in the realities of Georgia, a country that can only be seen on local news programs, this film is worth watching. Georgian reality is depicted with striking minimalism and naturalism, where the life of a little boy costs 300 lari – the price for a live pig.
Negative numbers. Director Uta Beria, 2019
What the film is about: The film is set in a juvenile prison colony. The main character Nick, who is serving a sentence for a crime committed by his brother – the so-called “overseer” in this colony.
Why it matters: This is the first Georgian film about a prison that does not romanticize the criminal world in the least. On the contrary, Uta Beria seeks to show the ugly and criminal Soviet legacy that is so firmly embedded in us that the country has been unable to rid itself of it even thirty years later. The modern prison, coupled with a powerful new institution – the church, fits into a model in which the weak do not deserve forgiveness, and the strong always win.
And Then We Danced. Director Levan Akin, 2019
What the film is about: The film’s director Levan Akin, who was born and raised in Sweden, comes from a family of Georgians living in Turkey. In the film, he tells the love story of two guys dancing in a Georgian dance ensemble.
Why is it important. We can say that “And Then We Danced” is the first Georgian full-length openly gay film, the merit of which is not only its courage, but also cinematic skill. This is not just the story of two boys and their friends, it is the story of all people who have to live in a masculine environment.
“Beginning”. Director Dea Kulumbegashvili, 2020
What the film is about: The film is set in one of the provincial cities of Georgia and tells the story of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The main characters of the film are the local leader of Jehovah’s Witnesses and his wife Yana. One day they are attacked by religious extremists and their prayer house is burnt down.
Why it is important: films of recent years are interesting primarily because young directors deal with topics that were considered taboo. Kulumbegashvili’s film shows how representatives of a religious minority live in Georgia. The second and no less interesting line is the image of Yana, the wife of the leader of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yana begins to analyze her real desires, after which her world slowly collapses.