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Twentieth edition of the Tbilisi International Film Festival set to launch a weeklong run on December 1

by Alex Deleon

This is a big year for Georgia with the twentieth edition of the Tbilisi International Film Festival set to launch a weeklong run on December 1.

As usual a selection of classic and new Georgian cinema will  be shown as well as a country focus on British filmmakers in addition to works from the rest of the world in this anniversary edition 

England being the Country in Focus this year the opening film will be a restored copy of the rarely seen partially-silent partially-sound Hitchcock thriller "Blackmail" (1929).  This early Hitchcock landmark will have live orchestral accompaniment on the gala opening evening. 

Numerous other landmark films to be shown in this remarkable survey of English cinema include "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" 1962, "This Sporting Life" 1963, "Women in Love" 1969. "The Servant" 1963, "The Browning Version" 1951, and "Sunday Bloody Sunday" 1971.

 Also on tap in this section "Sorry we Missed You" 2019, the latest  offering from Ken Loach, 83, the master of English working class misery and harsh realities. Regarded as one of the most significant British directors Loach is still going strong in his eighties as an apologist for the downtrodden in the bleak north of England.  Shown at Cannes and at the Golden Apricot film festival in Yerevan in July this year.

In the other focus section, the festival will host screenings of five works by one of a kind Mexican director Carlos Reygadas, 48, who is a special. guest of the festival.  Regarded as a leading figure of the Mexican new wave  snd the recipient of three Cannes Film Festival prizes this unique filmmaker who got off to a late start changing careers at the age of thirty-one under the influence of the films of Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky has recently become a hot festival favorite. This is his second visit to the Caucasus region as he also served on the jury of the Golden Apricot festival in Yerevan in July.  Reygadas films scheduled are "Japón" (2002), "Battle in Heaven" 2005 (in competition at Cannes),  "Silent Light" 2007 (Cannes Jury Prize),  "Post Tenebras Lux" (Light after Darkness), Best director, Cannes, 2012, and his latest, "Our Time" which was in competition at Venice in 2018.  The latter is about a happily married couple who raise fighting bulls (toros bravos) but their marital bliss is endangered when the wife starts to have eyes for a horseman.  Great chance to survey the work of a unique director whose quirky contemplative slow moving films are not likely to be seen outside of the festival framework.


A strong lineup of competition films will include three from China,  

From Iran, Castle of Dreams, (Ghasr-e Shirin, 2019),86 Min by Ace director Reza Mirkarimi, 52.  With mother terminally ill at the hospital, father shows up after  long years of absence to pick up the children and take them to his dream castle. Three awards, best picture, director, and actor,  at the Shanghai film festival.n.  Agnieszka Holland's "Mr Jones", a super fake  news true story about the coverup of mass starvation in the Ukraine under Stalin and a British reporter's efforts to blow the whistle;  from Romania "The Whistlers", from Israel "Love Trilogy: Chained" by Yaron Shani, the tale of a cop accused of sexual molestation, from Algeria, "About Leila" is a film set during the Algerian civil war of 1994. Leila is not a lady but a male terrorist. This is the debut feature of French Algerien director Amin Sidi-Boumédiène, born 1982. and finally  a new Georgian film, a psychological thriller.  The "Criminal Man" (Borotmokmedi),  by Tbilisi native, Dmitri Mamulia.

CRIMINAL MAN  premiered at the Venice International Film Festival in September.    Dimitri Mamulia was awarded the Special Mention and the Ecumenical  Jury Award at the Karlovy Vary IFF and also the Nika Award – Discovery of the Year for Another Sky (2010). He is the founder of Moscow's School of  New Cinema and also of Tbilisi's New Caucasian Film School. 

 Other Georgian films of interest.

"Uzhmuria" (1934, 57 mins.) is a tribute to the first female film director in Georgia and the first female feature film director in the Soviet Union, Nutza (Nino) Ghoghoberidza, 1902 - 1966.  A story about a conflict between local beliefs and Soviet construction policies, the filmed was banned in the USSR and only recently recovered from cold storage.

Another new Georgian film is "Comets". The second feature of femme director Tamar Shavgulidze this  is a tale of two women in their fifties who meet after a thirty year separation and try to recapture the past understanding that back then their was something more than friendship going on between them.

A variety of shorter Georgian films, old and new, will also be shown.

And finally, the world's premiere of  "The Golden Thread" the latest production by venerated Georgian director Lana Ghoghoberidze, born Tbilisi in 1928, present age 91.

Regarding advancing age Lana summed it up in a French interview recently as follows:  "Age does not matter– always, at every moment, everything interesting still lies ahead. The power of joy and related creative ability…  All of this and much more is what I have acquired throughout my life. And I have a feeling that I cannot help but share it”.

The film is a Georgian/French coproduction  and focuses on the life of an 80 year old woman writer confined to home because of failing health.

Born on October 13, 1928 in Tbilisi, Ghoghoberidze has made a total of 9 feature and 4 documentary films. Her films have been nominated and awarded at numerous film festivals in Europe (CannesVeniceBerlinale), in Asia (Tokyo IFF) and in the Soviet Union. 


Another shorter Georgian film of interest to be shown is "Tell my friends that I'm dead"  (2004) RT 57 minutes, by France based award winning  documentary filmmaker Nino Kirtadze.  This film deals with a strange custom in western Georgia where the dead are considered to be still alive and are related to as such even after burual.  Awarded the top French documentary prize.

At the major festivals, Berlin, Cannes, and Venice, there are so many films to choose from that it is impossible to see everything one wants to see and there are always painful misses.  Tbilisi with a more manageable selection, both in and out of competition, provides a kind of year end wrap up of the most talked about films of the year from the top festivals. One might call it an early Christmas gift.

Among titles I missed earlier but hope to catch up with here are:

Agnieszka Holland's "Mr Jones"; "Horst Buchholz, My Dad", a posthumous tribute to the famous German actor made by his son, Christopher Buchholz,;  "Martin Eden", Best actor award for Italian actor Luca Marinelli at Venice 2019;  and "The Truth" (La Vérité), the French film by Japanese director Hirokazu Koreede, Palme d'Or winner at Cannes 2019, starring Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche.

Looks like a fully packed film week coming up in  ტბილისი!

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