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Georgia: On the wide screen again?19.02.2013 | 17:16
For decades, Georgian cinema was totally unique, and therefore has won lots of viewers around the world. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia's cinema faced many problems; in the first place - financial. Moreover, fragmented audience has dispersed. Cinema industry of the country, the entire infrastructure has declined. Now in Georgia there are six or seven cinemas, while prior to day there were about 250 of them. What can save and strengthen Georgia's new cinematography?
Legendary film studio "Georgia Film" has declined and exists only on the paper. According to the film director Rezo Chkheidze, namely the closure of the studio was a real challenge for the Georgian cinema. "Only enemies of Georgian culture could make that. "Georgia Film" is just destroyed. While in fact, it was a real city that had employed about 2,500 people. They created feature films; a studio of documentary and animated films and a section of dubbing-in were operating there", Rezo Chkheidze told GeorgiaTimes.
In Soviet times, the studio "Georgia Film" produced annually about 30 films. All of them were funded by the state. Now the situation has changed. Georgian National Film Center, operating from April 2001, is coordinating government funding for the development of Georgian cinema. But the problem, according to Rezo Chkheidze, is that the funding is not sufficient, and they are producing less movies. "Georgian National Film Center provides young filmmakers only about 15 percent of funding, and the rest of money they have to find by their own, find sponsors", said Chkheidze.
According to the journalist, the author of the documentary film "Unknown Caucasus" broadcsted by the "Region-TV" and later by the TV PIK, Zurab Dvali, the crisis of the cinematography is not only connected to the lack of money, but a deficit of ideas. "After the 90's, unfortunately, it is very difficult to name any good picture. Modern movies are not the masterpiece that could be a pride for our country. Georgia produced in 1960-70s, even in 1920's, world famous films by such authors as Michael Kalatozishvili, Vasiko Dolidze, Nikoloz Shengelaya - their films are classics. And in recent years they are filming fairly mediocre movies, and it's rediculous to bring them to the international level", Zurab Dvali said.
Unlike the feature film, documentary film in Georgia has not collapsed and is actively developing. Part of them can be shown on TV. Now, virtually all leading TV channels of Georgia have the opportunity to shoot documentary films.
Author of a series of documentaries Zurab Dvali said that the documentaries have a permanent audience, thinking, understanding and wondering. "The quality of documentaries in Georgia has improved exponentially. Earlier, they have not paid much attention to the visual side of the film (the emphasis is on the text on content), and now, in the 21st century, the standard requirements for documentary film are much higher. There is the level of "Discovery", "National Geographic", "Travel". Today the Georgian documentary film makers have access to good equippment, so they are paying attention to the visual side, making shooting images that may comply with international standards, which, of course, pleases. Moreover, our priority is preservation of the national film school tradition, copyright, intellectual cinema. If we want to surprise someone, we have to go this way".
The fact that in Georgia there is a market for mainstream films, most of which are comedy, in opinion of the film critic and art historian Theo Khatiashvili, is an indicator of the crisis, not only in film industry but also in the Georgian culture in general. "I do not understand why in this country the concept of "commercial film" implies low quality. If you look at world cinema, there are many commercial films, but they are of high quality. But not everything can be justified by a lack of financing. There are many examples when career of the famous director began from the films with small budget. Everything depends on how creative you are and how you can choose the shape without spending a lot of money. And in this terms, we have a very strong deficit in Georgia", said Khatiashvili.
Speaking of the issue of insufficient funding, film critic noted that in all the big cities of Georgia there must exist at least one municipal cinema. "In developed countries there is no municipal cinema, it's all business. But in our case, without state subsidies and care nothing can work. So the state financing is required as a charitable gesture", said Khatiashvili.
The idea of the revival of the studio "Georgia Film", which together with its production and equippment should be in charge of the state, has long been discussed in Georgia. The filmmakers have carried out a lot of work in order to turn "Georgia Film" into a public institution. But the restoration of its work will take time.
According to the director Rezo Chkheidze, Georgia, along with a number of well-known masters of cinema, there has appeared a generation of young and talented directors.