An interview with David Abdaladze. Chairman of “Kino Plus”. The Georgian film Producer’s Center
David Abdaladze finished his studies in film production at Moscow state institute of cinematography in 1989 and a year later he founded Georgian-British film-centre “Moon globe”. He was the first person to organise a film market in the former Soviet Union territory – the Tbilisi Film Market. He is also the author of “Georgian film Encyclopaedia” which its last part will be published in 2008 at the same time that the 100 year anniversary of Georgian cinema will be celebrated.
Shohreh Jandaghian – You are the founder of “Georgian film producer’s centre, Kino Plus”. Please tell us about the aims and activities of “Kino Plus”?
David Abdaladze – Our purpose is to find an opportunity for development of the Georgian film industry. We create favourable conditions for attraction of foreign partners. In fact Georgia is a unique country because of its landscapes. Here we have all climatic zones: the sea, mountains, desert… It takes only two hours by car to drive from mountains covered by snow to the seaside where you can swim and it could be interesting for production companies to decrease their production costs and save their film budget.
Also we have recently organized Georgian film days in Latvia and this year we are going to hold Georgian film days in London. We publish books and magazines about Georgian cinema as well. This summer we are going to organize international film market in Tbilisi and in September we are planning the second round of international film festival of religious films.
Apart from that, in 2006 our company has led a survey among film critics for announcing the 12 best Georgian films of all times. On the basis of these data, we have published a book with rare photos. We are going to present these 12 films on DVD and VHS formats. Last October we had a great photo exhibition with unique photos from the Georgian silent cinema era, which was a big success.
Shohreh – What was your motivation to organise Tbilisi Film Market in the former Soviet Union?
David – Carrying out Tbilisi Film market is very important for development of Georgian cinema industry because it attracts foreign investments. Directors, producers and film distributors can see real opportunities for making movies in Georgia with minimal expenses. We don’t get these kinds of Cinema markets in Caucasus or even in all Middle East. Unfortunately not everyone understands importance of this project and to make it happen, I have to look for partners outside Georgia. Except from the above-mentioned factors I wish to add, that this project is commercially very successful and l would accept any support with pleasure.
Shohreh – You are also the author of “Georgian film Encyclopaedia”. How did you come about writing this book?
David – I was always excited about having such great film school and rich cinema history in Georgia. All these information has never been collected or written systematically. In fact because of having no corresponding archives, many films have been destroyed. For example from first full-length (60 minutes) documentary film “Akaki Tsereteli “, only 20 minutes of it is saved. The encyclopaedia consists of three volumes: the first volume, which has already finished, deals with art, documentary, television and animation films made from 1908 to 1964. The second one focuses on 1985-1990 years. And the third part will be out in 2008 at 100 year anniversary of Georgian cinema. The book is in two languages: Georgian and English and holds very rare and unique photos.
Shohreh – Apart from TBILISI International Film Festival, is there any other film festivals in Georgia?
David – Beside the “Prometheus “, international film festival there are a few other film festivals like Extreme cinema “Niamor” and religious films “Saint Andrew “.
Shohreh – How popular is the national cinema among people in Georgia?
David – In Georgia traditionally people love cinema very much, especially the movies made in Georgia. Georgian audience is very critical. Like everywhere else we have also Hollywood film dominancy, especially after such long stagnation of the national cinema. It is necessary to note, that our spectator perfectly understands all subtleties of cinema art and they quite objectively estimate advantages of a film.
Shohreh – In your opinion, how the Georgian cinema could achieve more global recognition and reveal its relatively lesser known film industry?
David – For popularization of Georgian cinema it is necessary to arrange as many film screenings as possible. It is important to show a retrospective of old films in different countries, to participate in different film markets and to make closer relationships with broadcasting companies and press. The Georgian films have won several times the best awards at European film festivals. Unfortunately the American spectators are less informed about our cinema and I think if we could hold Georgian cinema days in United States, it would be a big surprise and gift for American movie fans.
Shohreh – What film projects are you working on at the moment?
David – Now we are at pre-production of a documentary film named “Children of the sink “. The film is about newborn babies refused by their mothers. The film concept is a bit dark but this is one of our society’s realities. Apart from that, we are working on a documentary film called “Transit “, a film that touches problems of narcotics. Georgia is a crossroad between Europe and Asia, and Greater Silk Road from China to the Europe. After disintegration of Soviet Union, it has gained its importance; not only in economic sense, but also in drugs traffic.
Shohreh – Are there any other points you would like to mention regarding Georgian film industry?
David – After the fall of the communist’s dictatorship, when all film productions were financed by state, people did not know how to find a budget for shooting films and it was necessary to study the alphabet of market economy. Establishing personal relationships with foreign filmmakers and film producers has played a huge role in establishing the new Georgian cinema. The good will of our friends to has also been important to help the restoration of Georgian film school.
I wish to finish our conversation with the words of great film director Federico Fellini who said: “Georgian film is a strange phenomenon. It is special, philosophically bright, sophisticated and at the same time childishly pure and innocent. There is everything in it that can make me cry and I have to say that it is not easy to make me cry”.
Shohreh – Thank you very much for taking time and answering my questions.
David – Many thanks to you too.
Introduction to an early Georgian Film:
Arsena the Robber
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1923, 35 mm, 70 min, b/w, sound
Screenplay – Vladimer Barski
Director – Vladimer Barski
Director of Photography – Alexander Digmelov
Painters – Valerian Sidamon-Eristavi, K. Tir
Starring: Giorgi Chechelashvili (Arsena), Nato Vachnadze (Neno), Pavel Sikovski (Gigo), Kote Andronikashvili (Prince Irakli), Zaqaria Berishvili (Superintendent), Vasil Arabidze (Prince Vakhtang), A.Barkhudarova (Princess Rusudan), I. Kruchinin, G. Avetian (Generals)
In the 19th century in a Giorgian village during a peasant wedding, Arsena failes to tolerate injustice and with a small gang flees to the mountains and becomes an outlaw. Arsena falls in love with Prince Vakhtang’s slave –Neno raped by the prince. After becoming aware of this fact and that the father of his future child is the prince, he burns his house and premises. Overwhelmed Neno commits a suicide. Arsen gets arrested, but manages to escape and returns to his gang in the mountains.