Georgian cinema has the wind at its back once again after spending a lengthy period in the creative doldrums. With two films short-listed for an Oscar, one of which is also up for a Golden Globe, Georgian directors have risen from the ashes of a collapsed film industry, showing that even with limited resources it is possible to make world-class films.
Many film fans attribute Georgia’s recent achievements to its rich cinematic legacy, to which New York’s Museum of Modern Art paid homage last September with the largest retrospective of Georgian film ever screened in the United States. Georgia’s cinema heritage can be traced back to the first projection of a film on November 16, 1896, predating the first screenings in many Western European countries.
When the Bolsheviks took over in 1921, Georgian film was already well-established, having produced some of the world’s early full-length documentary and feature films. For the next 70 years Georgian cinematography thrived with innovative directors, such as Mikheil Kalatozov, whose masterpiece, The Cranes Are Flying, became the first Soviet Palme d'Or prize winner at the Cannes Film Festival in 1957.
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Paul Rimple is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi.