The Future of Georgian Cinema to be Discussed at the Berlinale 2024 

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Georgian filmmakers are set to attend the Berlin International Film Festival this February to discuss Georgian cinema and its future. The boycott of the state-backed National Film Center, which provides the majority of the funding for Georgian films, continues. 

Tensions rose surrounding the democracy regarding Georgian film after the former Minister of Justice, Tea Tsulukiani, was appointed as the Minister of Culture and Deputy Prime Minister. She’s been criticized for appointing political loyalists to manage cultural sectors in which they have little to no experience, including film. The prime example of this was the firing of Gaga Chkheidze, the former director of the Film Center, and replacing him with Koba Khubunaia, a politician with no known film experience. Filmmakers fear these changes are an attempt to control the country’s film production and independent cinema culture. 

The recent 2023 “reorganization” of the system under Tsulukiani’s order sparked significant controversy. Protesters claim that her goal is to mold the output of Georgian film to fit the current government’s values. The surge in protests by industry creatives during the summer of 2023 showed the popular opinion that the ministry’s appointing of loyalists for these cultural positions of power could mean that film projects may be censored if they express views opposing the government. 

In the past, the Georgian government, including Tsulukiani herself, has openly criticized the movie “Taming the Garden.” Directed by Salomé Jashi, “Taming the Garden” is a 2022 film about the former prime minister and current richest man in Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili, who uprooted mature trees from villages and forests to be replanted in his private park. They expressed that the film was too political, and subsequently banned it from all theaters. Other films and documentaries have faced similar outcomes since then. 

Due to these issues, creatives are now leaving behind the Georgian National Film Center to instead receive funding and promotion from an independent organization, the Georgian Film Institute

Writers, directors, and producers will be at the Berlinale to talk about government interference and censorship, and about the threats to the independent Georgian film industry.

About :

Natia Kirvalidze is a Georgian student in the Writing, Literature, and Publishing program at Emerson College. She currently serves as a copy editor for Page Turner Magazine and is the managing editor for The Independent Magazine. She loves long walks, playing chess, and making lists.