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Issue no: 1107

• DECEMBER 7 - 10, 2018

• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue... Georgians Have Lowest Trust in Parliament, Prosecutor’s Office & Court

NEWS PAGE 3

Remembering my Encounters with President Bush

FOCUS

ON THE INAUGURATION The President-Elect chooses Telavi- the town where she lost the vote

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Is Tourism in Georgia a Threat to Rural Life?

POLITICS PAGE 4

Politician, Author Nika Rurua Dies SOCIETY PAGE 8

Parade: a Georgian Film in the Truest Sense

BY AMY JONES

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oaring peaks and unique cave towns, endless green valleys and ancient watchtowers. Georgia’s unique rural life and scenery are attracting more and more international visitors by the year. The Georgian National Tourism Administration announced that more than 8 million people visited Georgia between January and November this year, an increase of 10.6% compared to the same period in 2017. With many of the visitors flocking to Georgia’s rural areas, could this increase in numbers threaten rural life? My driver pulls sharply on the steering wheel as the contents of his car, myself included, are flung to the left. Darkness makes it impossible to see why he has swerved. Probably a cow, I think to myself. “Sorry, the road is so bad, better to go on the field,” he assures me, noticing my concern. Those who have visited the farther-flung corners of Georgia will be acquainted with nailbiting journeys on narrow roads in terrible condition. The need for improved infrastructure is

CULTURE PAGE 15

obvious and progress has been slow. Nonetheless, investment is slowly trickling into the infrastructure of rural areas, largely due to the increased number of visitors, making local mobility easier. Yet it seems little regard is paid to the potential destruction of the wild landscapes as new roads are built. Works on a road leading from Stepandtsminda to Gergeti Trinity Church were recently

completed, enabling tourists to reach the church by car. During the works, the once green foothills of Kazbegi were turned into a mud bath of tracks and dirt, tarnishing the view at the top. Some question the necessity of the road at all, as the church was already easily accessible after a short hike, and an old cable car, already built, could have been restored and monetized. Continued on page 6


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 7 - 10, 2018

Airbnb Lists Batumi as Destination to Visit in 2019

Image source: SECO Start-Up Fund

Photo source: Albatrosureki

BY AMY JONES

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he popular vacation home rental platform Airbnb has listed Batumi as one of 19 destinations to visit in 2019. The article, published on 3 December, chose destinations based on wish list growth data and their own research. They expect the cities to become more and more in demand in the coming year. Batumi, Georgia’s second largest city, is particularly popular with locals and tourists especially due to its location on the Black Sea coast and year-round mod-

erate climate. Searches for Batumi on the platform have seen a year on year increase of 200%. Compiling off-the-beaten-track destinations for travelers, the list includes Kaikoura in New Zealand, Xiamen in China, Normandy in France, the Great Smoky Mountains in the US, Accra in Ghana, Mozambique, and Uzbekistan, among others. Airbnb is just one of many international companies and news outlets recently to include Georgia as a place to visit. Georgian tourism is booming year on year. 8 million visitors have already visited the country from January to November this year, an increase of 10.6% compared to the same period in 2017.

2018 Decline in Georgia’s Hazelnut Exports BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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n January-October 2018, Georgia exported $45.8 million worth of hazelnuts, a $19 million (29.3%) decrease year-on-year, reports the National Statistics Office of Georgia. Export figures were strong during the first quarter of the year with more than

$18 million, but fell in the second and third quarters, reaching just $10 million and $11.5 million, respectively. For the fourth quarter, numbers are thus far only available for October, which saw $6.2 million worth of exports. Exports also fell dramatically in 2017: a 54%, decrease from the previous year, with a total volume of $63.8 million. Hazelnuts were once the second most exported product from Georgia (by com-

modity group at the HS four-digit level), but are now in 10th place after copper ores, cars, ferroalloys, wine, medicine, cigarettes, liquor, mineral water, fertilizers, and gold, for the first ten months of 2018. The majority of hazelnut exports are sent to Italy, Germany and Russia. Hazelnuts are primarily grown in Georgia’s western, Black Sea coast regions of Adjara and Guria.


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 7 - 10, 2018

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Occupied Abkhazia Slams NATO Sec Gen's Statement BY THEA MORRISON

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he de facto Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia’s occupied region of Abkhazia stated that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is increasing tension in the region by calling on Russia to reverse recognition of breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “The statement made by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is a provocation that further escalates the situation in the region. Such statements from European senior officials are directed at supporting the aggressor country, which has carried out many acts of genocide and armed aggression against the peoples of Abkhazia and South Ossetia," the so-called ministry stated.

The ministry claims that the “presence of Russian forces on the territory of Abkhazia is strictly regulated by inter-state agreements between the two countries.” The statement also reads that Russia's recognition of occupied Abkhazia is “ultimate and irreversible.” “The strengthening of military cooperation in the Georgia-NATO format creates an additional threat to peace in the South Caucasus,” the de facto ministry said. Two of Georgia’s regions, Abkhazia and Samachablo (South Ossetia) fell under Russian occupation after the 5-day August 2008 Russia-Georgia war. The international community, excluding Russia, Syria, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru, recognizes these territories as integral parts of Georgia and has many times called on Russia to withdraw its forces and reverse the recognition of the two breakaway regions.

Georgians Have Lowest Trust in Parliament, Prosecutor’s Office & Court BY THEA MORRISON

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he Parliament, the Prosecutor's Office and the Court are the three main institutions of the country least trusted by the people. Within the project ‘Facilitating Implementation of Reforms in the Judiciary’ (FAIR), implemented by the Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC) in cooperation with the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) and Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), CRRC-Georgia, a nationwide public opinion survey was conducted in order to understand public opinion about the judicial system of Georgia, public views and attitudes towards the role of the judges, trust in courts, and knowledge about the implemented judiciary reforms and their experience with courts. The survey results show that the highest trust of society goes to the police (42%), followed by lawyers (35%) and the Public Defender (33%). Trust towards NGOs (27%) exceeds trust in the Prime Minister (24%), Pros-

Image source: Foreign Policy

ecutor's Office (18%), judges (19%) and Parliament (15%). 46% of respondents think that judges in Georgia are not independent. About one third of respondents (32%) think that judges are not fair and 22% of respondents do not believe in their professionalism. “A large part of the population does

not think taking a case to court will make things worse, while half the people believe that judges in Georgia are not independent,” the findings read. Moreover, 41% of interviewed people do not trust Georgian judges. This indicator has increased by 21% compared to 2014. “The population of Georgia perceives an independent judiciary to be an issue

of lesser importance and considers poverty and unemployment as the most important problems in the country. However, almost half the population is interested in what is happening in Georgian courts,” the report reads. The survey also revealed that the population of Georgia is less informed about the court system and the ongoing reforms,

adding the majority of the population does not understand the hierarchy of authority or the goals of the court reforms. “The majority of Georgia’s population misunderstands or has no knowledge of who appoints judges, who is legally allowed or not allowed to dismiss the judges of the Supreme Court of Georgia, what the primary goal of the introduction of the electronic system of case distribution is and what the main function of the Independent Inspector is,” the survey reads. Giorgi Mikautadze, Secretary of the High Council of Justice, stated the survey revealed people are not well-informed about the recent developments in the judiciary system. “I consider this a challenge for the Judiciary and we have already identified it. Strengthening relations with the public is inevitable and the High Council of Justice will actively work in this regard,” he said. The survey took place August 30 - September 15, 2018 and involved the adult, Georgian speaking population of Georgia, excluding people in the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Overall, 2,080 people were interviewed with the CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing) method.

New President's Inauguration to Be Held in Telavi BY THEA MORRISON

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he inauguration ceremony of Georgia’s first female president, Salome Zurabishvili, will be held in Telavi, the administrative center of Georgia's eastern province of Kakheti, known as the winemaking region of the country. Traditionally, the ceremony is held in the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi, but as the President-Elect stated, this time Telavi will play host to this important event. Telavi is the town where Zurabishvili was unable to get the majority of votes in the November 28 runoff. She explained this is why it was decided to hold the inauguration there. “There were several scenarios, but Telavi was my proposal because the whole election campaign was focused on our need to develop the regions, and I think that Telavi is the right choice. The second reason behind my decision is that Telavi did not vote for me. It is one of the places where I lost the elec-

tions and I want to show that I am their President even if they did not vote for me,” Zurabishvili stated, adding that invitations will be sent to foreign delegations and guests. “We will invite everyone we have diplomatic relations with. Outgoing President Giorgi Margvelashvili will also be invited,” she noted. Lasha Zhvania, who will become the head of Zurabishvili’s Presidential Administration, told reporters that by holding the inauguration in Telavi, the PresidentElect showed that she is keeping her pre-election promise that she will pay attention to the regions. “Her first message on inauguration day will be that she is keeping her pre-election promise to be a president of the regions,” Zhvania said. The Head of the Georgian Government Administration, Kakha Kakhishvili, said that the President's 2001 decree on the inauguration location and procedures is incompatible with the existing legislation. He noted that a new rule for conducting inaugurations will be worked out in the Prime Minister's Administration.

"The 2001 Presidential Decree names the official inauguration place as Rustaveli Avenue and the parliament building there. It also defines the circle of people who will meet with the President. This decree is not in harmony with the new legislation. Accordingly, a new rule on the inauguration is being made by the Prime Minister's Administration,” Kakhishvili said. The Head of the Governmental Administration added that a special commission was created which will work on the scenario and the inaugural events. Kakhishvili said that it had not yet been calculated how much the inauguration would cost. Kakheti Governor Irakli Kadagishvili also confirmed that the inauguration ceremony will be held in Telavi, naming the likely location to be Batonis Tsikhe, a castle which served as the residence of Kakhetian Kings between the 17th and 18th century. The castle encloses two churches, the ruins of a royal bathhouse, and the Persian-style palace of King Erekle II. Zurabishvili’s opponent in the elections, member of the United National

Image source: gstravel.ge

Movement (UNM) and the ex-presidential candidate of the opposition Grigol Vashadze, said the opposition does not care where the ceremony takes place, as it does not recognize the new president. “We have no issue with it. Nobody

plans to hinder the ceremony,” he said. Vashadze and other representatives of the United Opposition plan to hold a protest-rally in central Tbilisi on December 16, the day the inauguration ceremony is to take place.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 7 - 10, 2018

Remembering My Encounters with President Bush BY WILL CATHCART

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am still in the Republic of Georgia where I wrote the letter below to President and Mrs. Bush in March of 2010. As I reflect upon the life of a remarkable statesman, I delight in having had the opportunity to witness the graciousness that Bush 41 embodied. Rest in peace, Mr. President. “Dear President and Mrs. Bush, When I was 11 years old Easter weekend of 1993, I got up from the dinner table to walk to the bathroom down the hallway of the Gasparilla Inn in Boca Grande Florida. On my way, I passed you, several Secret Servicemen and Mrs. Bush. At first I didn’t notice you but when I saw Mrs. Bush, I knew exactly who you were. I yelled something inappropriate like “Hey you’re Barbara Bush and you — you’re the president.” You said something like, “Well actually I used to be.” Mrs. Bush giggled and said very nicely, “Well, hello young man.” I was thrilled and said “Sir — ma’am, would you please wait right here so I can show y’all to my friend, otherwise he won’t believe me.” It humors me to this day that I asked the former leader of the Free World to wait on me (an 11-year-old) in a hotel lobby. What amazes me even more is how kind you both were to me. An 11-year-old is a very impressionable creature, and I have never forgotten the way you treated me. I think you found the situation quite humorous. You explained that you needed to get going; I believe you were there for a wedding. But you pointed to the end of the hall and explained that there was a secret door, and that, if I got my friend and came and knocked, you would open it and meet us. I did so, and dragged my best friend, Elliott Merck, down the hall to come see you. He didn’t believe me, of course, or that the wooden hotel wall in front of us was a secret room. But when I knocked, it opened, and a Secret Servicemen greeted us and welcomed us in to shake your hand. Elliott has never doubted me since. We are both still dreamers. He is now in Hollywood making films and I am a writer. The next day was Easter, and by luck we received disposable cameras from the Easter Bunny. We rented bikes and set out to find you again, so we could prove the tale to our friends. We interrogated a substantial portion of the hotel staff for intel on your whereabouts, again a quite humorous scenario, looking back. Eventually we found a kind source who took pity on us and pointed towards the golf course. It is there that we chased you down on our bicycles. One of your

Secret Service guys stopped us, said we could get a photograph, but we had to let you play through the hole. We did so, and not only did we get a picture, we got several. I asked a Secret Service agent to take my photo with the president, and he kindly obliged. Moreover, the young twerp I was proceeded to direct photography until we each had several photo-

graphs with you. I then explained that I would have voted for you not Bill Clinton “if I coulda voted.” I would also like to add that, while we were waiting, we asked your saint of a Secret Serviceman, who probably had not signed on for PR with little hellions, 10,000 questions. He finally said, “Look guys you see these palm trees all around us.”

10 Galaktion Street

“Yeah,” we said. “Well there are Secret Service officers up in them with sniper rifles looking right at you.” “Wow,” we said. “Which ones.” “If I told you,” he said, “I’d have to kill you.” “Awesome!” we said because that was pretty much the coolest thing we’d ever

heard. So let’s just assume that if we told that story several times a day for the last 14 years to just about everyone we knew, and then they told everyone they knew, then we have done more to reinforce the reputation of the Secret Service than an entire division of PR officers. Meeting you and Mrs. Bush at such a young age and having y’all take the time and the patience to treat me as if I was an adult, has had a profound impression on my life. I remain a staunch believer in democracy — that our leaders are not only accessible but it is their duty to be so. This is the impression with which you left me. That no elected official in this country was out of my reach or too important to speak with me — that no dream is too large to pursue. I thank you for that. Today I am an advisor on U.S. and media relations for President Saakashvili of the Republic of Georgia. There is a street here in Tbilisi proudly named after your son. Before that I was the managing editor of the Charleston Mercury in Charleston, S.C., the city where I know Mrs. Bush attended high school at Ashley Hall. In the last few years I have had the opportunity to interview many great leaders and even more great human beings. Now 16 years later, I am once again asking for a little bit of your time. You both have led lives of service to this country far and beyond what was ever asked of you. You are a role model not just to Republicans, but also a symbol of gentlemanly bipartisanship. I think that, especially in these volatile political times, your words and your wisdom would be a soothing and much-needed reminder to the people of Georgia what it means and what it takes to live in a true democracy. I fear that each day I’m here this country — this tiny island of freedom in the heart of Eurasia — is slowly being lost to a tyrant waiting just to the north. On behalf of the staff of the Georgian President, I extend to you an invitation to come here to Tbilisi, though I know you are quite busy with your humanitarian efforts. Any time you have to spare, even a phone call or a few words would mean the world not only to me but I think it would resonate with the people of Georgia at a very volatile time in this country’s history. Though it was briefly that we met, you and Mrs. Bush have been tremendous inspirations in my life. I hope to one day see you again. Thank you so much for your consideration of my request. Sincerely, Will Cathcart” Printed with the permission of the author. First published 12/4/2018 charlestonmercury. com

Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail: info@peoplescafe.ge


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 7 - 10, 2018

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Bridging the Gaps: Health & Rights for the Key Population Image source: Tbilisi City Hall

Tbilisi City Hall Joins Campaign to Eliminate Violence against Women BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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bilisi City Hall and Tbilisi Transport Company joined the annual ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence’ campaign to end violence against women, initiated by the United Nations. The campaign begins on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and ends on December 10, Human Rights Day. Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi Sophio Khuntsaria participated in a demonstration against gender-based violence by riding public buses and talking with passengers and people waiting for transport. The Deputy Mayor informed the bus passengers on Rustaveli Avenue about the campaign and about related statistics. She left them with a gift of a small pin with an orange ribbon, the color of the campaign. Another, similar initiative is the White Ribbon Campaign, a global movement that began in 1991, closely associated with the 16 Days of Activism campaign. White Ribbons have become an international

symbol of the fight against gender-based violence. Wearing a white ribbon represents a personal pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls. Within the 16 Days, there are several other notable days: November 29: International Women’s Human Rights Defenders Day, December 1: World AIDS Day, and December 5: International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development. Khuntsaria made a statement to reporters, saying that “the Tbilisi Municipality has joined the 16-day campaign against violence. Unfortunately, we have very bad statistics for violence against women. There are different forms of violence. Therefore, I urge all women to raise their voices and know that the State will always stand beside them.” The 16-day campaign was established in 1991 by the first Women's Global Leadership Institute, held by the Center for Women's Global Leadership (CWGL) at Rutgers University. It has been held in Georgia for several years now, but this year is the first time that government agencies have participated in marking the campaign. On November 25, the Tbilisi TV tower at Mtatsminda Park was lit

up orange in solidarity with the cause. Approximately 30 municipalities in Georgia have joined the central government's initiative to recognize the campaign, which is also active on social media. A major component of the recognition is the effort to raise awareness of legal and other services for victims of violence offered by the Government of Georgia and nongovernmental organizations. The campaign is being implemented in accordance with the National Strategy and Action Plan for the Elimination of Domestic Violence, which were developed and approved earlier this year by the Inter-Agency Commission on Gender Equality, Women and Domestic Violence, with support from the United Nations Women's Organization (UN Women) and the European Union. Together, the documents form the framework for the sectoral ministries and state agencies that are involved in preventing and responding to acts of violence against women at the national level. Accompanying Khuntsaria were the Mayor's Advisor on Gender Equality Issues, Nino Burdzenidze, and other representatives from the Tbilisi Transport Company and City Hall.

Image source: afew.org.ua

BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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t the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel on December 4, within the scope of the project ‘Bridging the Gaps: Health and Rights for the Key Population’, the Center for Information and Counseling on Reproductive Health ‘Tanadgoma’ initiated a conference with the title: ‘Rehabilitation-Resocialization of People Dependent on Psychoactive Drugs’ The six-hour conference, with government bodies, local and international organizations in attendance, aimed to outline and consider the main issues related to the rehabilitation and resocialization of people using and dependent on psychoactive drugs. Represent-

atives of different organizations delivered speeches about problems faced by drug-addicts and discussed the ways to solve this critical problem within Georgian society. The flaws of the national psycho-social rehabilitation system were noted. The project is carried out with the financial aid of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Dutch public health NGO-AIDS Foundation East-West, AFEW, and the local Public Union ‘Bemoni.’ The aim is to support the psychological rehabilitation of drug-addicted individuals. The first phase (September 2011 to December 2015) and saw the first 24/7 rehab center launched in the village of Gremi, Kvareli Municipality. The second phase, to last until 2021, focuses on the social inclusion of drug-addicts and supporting them in future. Continued on page 7


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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 7 - 10, 2018

Aghmashenebeli Ave Gets New Maple Trees BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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amaged catalpa trees along Aghmashenebeli Avenue near the New Tiflis area are being replaced by new six-meter maple trees. Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi Maia Bitadze attended the process of planting the trees. She explained that catalpas, which were planted on Aghmashenebeli Avenue in 2011, are not appropriate for the urban climate, which result in their damage. "Today we are replacing catalpas with maples. It is neccessary to remedy the fact that this plant was incorrectly selected for the urban environment. Because of this, 180 trees were damaged - they could not grow and they suffered. Maples were selected from a list pre-

pared cooperatively by the municipality and botanical experts at the beginning of the year. Az many as 200 six-meter trees will be planted on Aghmashenebeli Avenue and I think they will decorate this area well. It is also well known that this plant is adequate for the climate of Tbilisi and the existing [urban] environment. I'm sure it will be very satisfying for all those people who have been worried about the mistakes on this street for many years," said the deputy mayor. Bitadze added that the damaged trees will be sent to a nursery farm owned by the municipality, where they will be disposed of in the appropriate manner. City Hall announced this replacement several months ago. The decision was based on demands from the local population. Tbilisi City Hall's Environmental Protection Service is currently carrying out large-scale planting works in the capital. By the end of the year, 12,000 new plants will be planted in Tbilisi.

Photo: Tbilisi City Hall

Georgian Olive Oil, Tea & Whiskey to Be Exported to China BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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s a result of negotiations with major Chinese companies, Georgian entrepreneurs have plans to export products to China, the Partnership Fund

reports. Following the success of Georgian wine exports, the billion-strong Chinese market will now have access to olive oil, tea and whiskey produced in Georgia. The official agreement was orchestrated by the Partnership Fund and the signing ceremony took place in the Georgian Wine House in the central part of Yiwu, the Chinese province of Zhejiang. Georgian wine was firstly sold in stores of the Chinese wine import company Cheers Wines in September 2017 in Beijing, and is popular among locals visitors to the city. China is the third largest importer of Georgian wine after Russia and Ukraine. The Partnership Fund also announced a new project with Chinese partners, a new factory in Tkibuli which will produce high quality jackets for local and international markets under the label of well known brands.

Image source: imedinews.ge

The long-term delivery service of 25 to 50 kilograms sacks from China. With the organic responsibility of the Trading Company "HanLin" from Alashankou. E-mail: yuechungian@163.com Tel/Fax: 86-0909-699-5859

Is Tourism in Georgia a Threat to Rural Life? Continued from page 1

An increase in tourism to natural areas can always threaten its natural beauty. Hotels and guest houses are rapidly being built in villages where, a few years ago, there was very little. As is typical in Georgia, many of these buildings are unregulated. Juta, a small village at the start of the Chauki Pass, had very few visitors a few years ago. Now, guests are greeted with the stark signs of ‘Sauna”, ‘Guesthouse’, and ‘beer, vodka, wine.’ Although amenities in the village are wanted, it cannot be said that the new constructions blend into the surrounding countryside. Walking from Juta towards the Chauki Pass, a campsite set up at the base of the jagged peaks caters to tourists in

summer. Plastic bags and rubbish are sprawled across the grass whilst horses graze in the makeshift shelters. These businesses represent the entrepreneurship of the local residents who are harnessing the monetary potential of incoming tourists. Rural areas in Georgia have struggled with climate change and poverty in recent years. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many countryside residents moved to bigger towns in search of a better way of life. The influx of tourism is helping to sustain the economy in rural areas, boost the income of struggling farmers, and offer new forms of employment. However, many neighbors are now not only the family who live next door, but business competitors. While earlier

struggles helped solidify a sense of community, responsibility for each other, and a shared identity, competition is beginning to challenge this community spirit. Neighbors compete to offer tourists the lowest prices, most ‘authentic’ taste of Georgian life, standards of comfort, and food. If tourism in Georgia’s rural areas is correctly managed and developed, it offers a huge opportunity for locals to improve their quality of life. The modernization of roads and economic potential will greatly ease the hardship of traditional life. Nonetheless, it remains unclear whether these projects will be done with the most important factor in mind: the preservation of the beauty of Georgia’s wilderness and traditions.


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 7 - 10, 2018

An Open Letter to the President, from Etseri, Svaneti BY TONY HANMER

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ear Madame President, Congratulations. We often don’t cheer anymore when the electricity comes back on. It’s free of charge in Upper Svaneti, as I am sure you know, and has been for longer than the 19 years I have made Georgia my home. Free, and we’re told not to complain at the frequent, many-hour outages of the ancient system. Huh! If we want a new one, with reliability built in, it’ll come with meters for all our houses, and monthly electricity bills as well! Instead, we mostly do nothing, and hope that our appliances, our fridges and TVs and water heaters won’t be killed when the process of turning the power back on takes several tries. On. Off a few seconds or a minute later. On again. Rinse, repeat. We might unplug things when it first goes off, so as to save them from those repeated jolts. If we’re rich enough, we might buy several gadgets to help. One is voltage stabilizers to even out the flow of juice, usually rated from about 1 to 5 kW, though house-level ones of 10 or more kW are possible. Another thing is a generator, powered by diesel or gasoline, for the things which really need to be on more than off, like fridges and freezers. Only if we’re a business making money hand over fist will we get a house-rated generator, though: Those things are expensive, and thirsty for fuel too! In my case, the nearest petrol station is 28 km away, in Mestia. My wife and I run the only real shop in our village, the largest shop between Khaishi and Mestia. In our home/guest house we have three fridge-freezer combinations and two separate chest freezers, as well as about seven heaters of about 1 kW each. AND gas for cooking with when the power’s out, AND the obligatory monster Svan wood-burning stove as a last resort, heavy enough to have needed four men to get it into the house when we moved here in August 2012. I had already experienced two winters, from 2007-9, living in Ushguli and teaching English there, and noticing how bad the electricity was then. Seemed that every time it snowed (a not infrequent occurrence in an Ushguli winter), the power disappeared. For 5 minutes or 10 days? Who knew? The psychological effects were similar for any time frame, because of the not knowing. We were half in the 19th century, half in the 21st,

wanting our soap operas and talent shows on TV during the long winter evenings but cooking and heating mostly with wood. Farming entirely by hand, too. I first visited Svaneti in 1999, quite unaware of how dangerous casual visits were in those bandit-ridden years. Soon after that, in 2000, I had made fast friends with a relative of the infamous Aprasidzes and continued an average of three visits a year to the province, which had beckoned to me from afar and was my raison d’être in Georgia in the first place. Still living in blissful ignorance of the forces against and for me, until I found myself at Evgeniy and Omekhi’s funeral, asked to take official photos during a supra for 600 people outdoors in the February snow. Yes, infrastructure improved rapidly

after that in Svaneti, and I even met President Saakashvili twice before he left Georgia. But the “free” electricity remains a gift horse into the mouth of which one should indeed look. And as for the local corruption, don’t even get me started. We hope fervently that, having won the vote, you will win our hearts as well. Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1900 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti

Bridging the Gaps: Health & Rights for the Key Population Continued from page 5

The Rehabilitation Center of Gremi, which is focused on drug and alcohol addicted individuals, was launched in 2016. Since then more than 30 beneficiaries have used its services. Rehabilitation there is based solely on psychological treatment using a “12 step” method which includes art and group therapies, meetings with a psychologist (group and individual), reading literature, watching films, cultivation of land and more. During art therapy sessions,

patients can express their emotions through drawing or ceramics. No medication is used in treatment. There are no phones or TVs, but patients are not isolated and there is no forced treatment- everything happens at the request of the beneficiary. The rehab is well-equipped, and renovation of the third floor is planned for the near future to make a library and gym for the patients. A rehabilitation course lasts three months but may be prolonged if a beneficiary wishes.

There is no age limit at the Gremi Rehabilitation Center and all the services are free. The only requirement that has to be met for a patient to be accepted at the Center is the desire to be cured. Despite a space having been allocated, there are no female beneficiaries at the center as yet, thought to be related to the social stigma, a fact also discussed during the conference. There are only three day treatment centers functioning in Tbilisi and the government is planning to make improvements in this sphere.

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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 7 - 10, 2018

Politician, Author Nika Rurua Dies

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ika Rurua (50) died at home in Vera, Tbilisi, December 4 following a heart complication. He served as Minister of Culture and Monument Protection from 2009-2012, during his time doing much to add to or promote Georgia's rich cultural heritage, including beginning negotiations for Georgia's 2018 participation in the Frankfurt Book Fair. He and his team worked with Italian architects on the renovation of the Bagrati Cathedral and Heroes' Square roundabout, petitioned for Qvevri's inclusion on the UNESCO heritage list and also supported renowned young jazz musician Beka Gochiashvili to study at the Juilliard Music Academy in New York. He further supported a plethora of cultural initiatives, such as the re-introduction of the tradition of Blue Tablecloth printing and the holding of

a variety of jazz concerts, in his term bringing international artists to Georgia's stages to play. He grew up in the world of filming and arts, as his father was renowned director and artist Vakhtang Rurua. He headed the campaign to ban images and statues of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in Georgia, and was at the forefront of the removal of the Stalin monument in Gori. He also spearheaded the foundation of Tbilisi's Soviet Occupation Museum. More recently, he was seen in the public eye as a member of the UNM, first as a candidate for the Sololaki/Mtatsminda district, a position he lost to now-President-Elect Salome Zurabishvili, and this year as a backer of Zurabishvili's contender, Grigol Vashadze. He will be buried on Thursday in Vera cemetery. Rurua leaves behind two daughters and a son.

CULTURE

In-Between Conditions

K

hidi Contemporary Art Space presents a multidisciplinary exhibition project ‘In-between Conditions’ on December 7, 18:00. Fast-paced technological development, unprecedented means of communication and overwhelming streams of information shape the new global-political and socio-cultural contours of everyday life. Parallel to these developments, the emergence of new conditions in societal life simultaneously creates unforeseen mythologies and narratives, thus unfolding unconventional ways of manipulation in social and political aspects. ‘In-between Conditions’ addresses the local context and questions the following: What are the conditions we exist in? What will the conditions be, wherein our daily life constantly changes? What is or could be understood as new media art in the Georgian context and beyond and which interrelationship with the current socio-political discourse does it imply? ‘In-between Conditions’ displays 18 work contributions expressing cultural impulses affected by political or social shifts. In a transdisciplinary, exploratory manner, the show captures those artistic tendencies and streams that had been left beyond recognition or whose contextualization within Georgia has not happened yet. Artworks of the following authors will be presented: Detu Jintcharadze and Mariam Natroshvili, Gio Sumbadze, Giorgi Maghradze, Jasper Fung, Koka Vashakidze and Vasili Macharadze, Lado Lomitashvili, Lado Oniani, Mamuka Japharidze, Manuchar Okrostsvaridze, Nika Machaidze, Nikoloz Kapanadze, Sandro Sulaberidze, Tamar Gurgenidze, Tilda George, Tornike Qarchkha, Wato Tsereteli, Zura Jishkariani and Sandro Asatiani, InChina Collective. Curators: Khatia Tchokhonelidze, Giorgi Spanderashvili, Vato Urushadze. The Khidi Contemporary Art Space represents a new platform, a multidisciplinary exhibition space on the 3rd floor of the club. It aims to create a unique junction between electronic music audiences and different artistic directions through a synthesis of novel artistic impulses. ‘In-between Conditions’ is the first long-term exhibition of the new space. For three months live performances, showings,

workshops and presentations will be held parallel to the exhibition. The show will be open for any visitor every Tuesday from 15:00-20:00 and simultaneously to attendees of Khidi musical events on Fridays and Saturdays (exclusively for the club audience) as well as through prior arrangement. Contact information: +995 577 935 032 / +995 593 750 076 / +995 558 900 400 or email us on following address inbetweenconditons@ gmail.com Supporters and partners of the project: Georgian Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport, Tbilisi City Hall, Goethe Institute, Ilia State University, Technopark, Creative Georgia, Center of Contemporary Art - Tbilisi, Georgian Moving Image & Video Art Archive, GEORGIA TODAY, ARTAREA, Geolab, 9 Mta, Marketer.ge, On.ge


10

CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 7 - 10, 2018

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

SHALIKASHVILI THEATER 27 Rustaveli Ave. December 7 KRIMANCHULI Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL December 8 LULLABY Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER 14 Shavteli Str. TEL (+995 32) 298 65 93 December 8 RAMONA RevazGabriadze Directed by RevazGabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL December 9 STALINGRAD Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL December 13 Animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER 182 Agmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 234 80 90 December 11 WELCOME TO GEORGIA A musical, theatrical play and romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. Musical Language: English, some Georgian With English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50-80 GEL

CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA 36 Kostava Str. TEL (+995 32) 299 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL December 7-13 THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT Directed by Lars von Trier Christian Rive Cast: Matt Dillon, Bruno Ganz, Uma Thurman Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller Language: English Start time: 21:45 Language: Russian Start time: 16:40 Ticket: 13-14 GEL MORTAL ENGINES Directed by Christian Rive Cast: Hugo Weaving, Stephen Lang, Robert Sheehan Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: English Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD Directed by David Yates Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, DanFogler Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 22:20 Ticket: 12-14 GEL BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY Directed by Bryan Singer Cast: Rami Malek, Joseph Mazzello, Mike Myers Genre: Biography, Drama, Music Language: Russian Start time: 13:40 Ticket: 14 GEL CAVEA GALLERY 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 200 70 07 Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL December 7-13

December 7, 13 ASTIGMATISTS Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL

THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS Directed by Lasse Hallström, Joe Johnston Cast: Mackenzie Foy, Keira Knightley, Morgan Freeman Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy Language: English Start time: 19:45 Language: Russian Start time: 17:15 Ticket: 14-19 GEL

December 8, 9 IGGI Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10 GEL

MORTAL ENGINES (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 11:45, 22:30 Ticket: 10-19 GEL

MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995) 598 19 29 36

ROBIN HOOD Directed by Otto Bathurst Cast: TaronEgerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn Genre: Action, Adventure Language: English Start time: 17:00 Language: Russian Start time: 19:45 Ticket: 13-19 GEL

PERMANENT EXHIBITION Discover the State's personal files of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Sovietera cultural and political repression in Georgia.

KELLER BAR 36 M.Kostava Str.

LITERATURE MUSEUM 8 Chanturia Str.

SUSPIRIA Directed by Luca Guadagnino Cast: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Doris Hick Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Mystery Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 16-19 GEL

December 4-12 EXHIBITION MODERN MADONNAS Project by Koka Vashakidze. The series of artworks, whilst acting as modern renditions of the unity of mother and infant - the eternal Madonna, also lay bare the struggles of one of the most marginalized, vulnerable groups of our society.

December 8 SOPHIE HALLEN, ŠPILL Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 10 GEL

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 13:15, 16:30, 19:30, 22:00 Language: Russian Start time: 13:30, 22:30 Ticket: 11-19 GEL BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 16-19 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 298 22 81 November 29 – January 20 Georgian National Museum in the framework of the Project “Contemporary Art Gallery” presents SOLO EXHIBITION OF LIA BAGRATIONI A MAD TEA-PARTY MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge

GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 October 9 – January 17 (2019) NIKO PIROSMANI’S RENEWED EXHIBITION October 10 – October 5 (2019) EXHIBITION MASTERS OF GEORGIAN ART Paintings of Kirill Zdanevich, Shalva Kikodze, Ketevan Magalashvili and Elene Akhvlediani together with Lado Gudiashvili's and David Kakabadze, giving a comprehensive picture of the diversity and aesthetics of Georgian Art. KHIDI V.Bagrationi Bridge, Right Embankment December 9 TESSERACT presents a series of creative performances ACT 1: Masterclass Spotlight on Actress and BallerinaNatia Bunturi- The professional obstacles of an actress ACT 2: Music experiment electroacoustic live experiment Phonothek & Hanker Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20 GEL MUSIC

SOUNDS OF GEORGIA December 7, 12, 13 Mini concerts in the cozy atmosphere of Old Tbilisi, a mix of traditional Georgian music featuring different genres: folklore, a capella, guitar, as well as new Georgian pop and city songs. Start time: 17:00 Tickets: 23 GEL Venue: December 7: New Tiflis, 9 Agmashenebeli Ave., Wine bar ‘Wine Station’; Venue: December 12: 16 G. Kikodze Str., Café ‘Ezo’; Venue: December 13: Europe Sq., 2 D. Megreli Str., Hotel "Nata", Terrace UNDER WHEEL Mtatsminda Park December 7 CJ BORIKA Giga Papaskiri- 22:15 - 23:00 CjBorika- 23:00 - 00:00 Rompasso- 00:00 - 00:30 Tornike Okriashvili- 00:30 - 01:10 Start time: 22:00 U-BAHN 164 Agmashenebeli Ave. December 7 The university of Georgia's student club UG universal and event group PARGEOTY presents: 70-90s PARTY IN TBILISI Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 15 GEL

December 7 LUDOFF, TADE Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 10 GEL

TBILISI CONCERT HALL 1 Melikishvili St. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 00 99 December 8 Bu Sehirde presents a new concert program ENJOY Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-80 GEL SPACEHALL 2 A. Tsereteli Ave. December 8 SEV Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 25-50 GEL CAFE MZIURI Mziuri Park December 9 SAKVIRAO Entertainment program for children Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 13 GEL ART HOUSE 18 Gudiashvili Str. December 9 IAN MAKSIN’S MAGIC CELLO NIGHT Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 40 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE 8 Griboedov St. TEL (+995 32) 2 93 46 24 December 10 CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERT Participants: John Thwaites (piano), Louise Lansdown (viola), Pavel Fischer (violin), Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (UK) Program: Schubert, Britten, Martinu, Franck, Bruch Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 10 GEL December 13 DAVID ALADASHVILI- PIANO Works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt, Robert Schumann, Dato Evgenidze (world premier) Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 5-35 GEL DJANSUG KAKHIDE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE 123 aAgmashenebeli Ave. December 8 CONCERT OF SYMPHONIC MUSIC Program: Symphony No.4 by Ludwig van Beethoven, Nanie written by Johannes Brahms, Te Deum written for mixed choir, soloists, symphony orchestra and organ by Anton Bruckner, The performers: Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra, Georgian State Choir and opera singers – Marika Machitidze, Nutsa Zakaidze, Irakli Murjikneli and Gocha Datusani. Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 7 - 10, 2018

11

Parade: a Georgian Film in the Truest Sense REVIEW BY RYAN SHERMAN

I

t is raining outside as a man dances in firelight with a prostitute. It’s getting cold. He tells her she’s beautiful and pulls her close, saying he hasn’t danced since his teenage son was born. He swoons. His friends will make fun of him in the morning. This is a scene from Nino Zhvania’s 2018 film ‘Parade,’ which opened Tbilisi’s 19th Film Festival opened Monday evening at Amirani Cinema, featuring the special appearance of the Italian Ambassador, and the entire cast taking to the stage before its screening to a packed auditorium. If I was to tell you ‘Parade’ portrays the longing of the human spirit via a trio of upper-middle aged, foul-mouthed Georgian men in the company of prostitutes around a fire, the only phrase that will come to mind is “oh brother.” So instead, I will only say this is a film you must see. It is one that will confound every Georgian stereotype you harbor. The film opens with Tazo, a frustrated painter, on at Tbilisi’s Dry Bridge flea market, angry with shame when his son shows up, sent by his mother and asking for money for a class excursion. Along with the kitchy paintings he has grown to despise, Tazo hawks a tray of kantsi, the traditional goat horn drinking vessel for wine, a must-get for any souvenirsavvy visitor. We cringe as he knocks down his prices in 5 Lari chunks for unimpressed European tourists who

mutter and soon shake their head and shuffle on. Yet any viewer hoping for a segue into the ills of globalization or the assault on cultural heritage will be disappointed with ‘Parade.’ This is a film that avoids moralizing and navigates around the easy reservoirs of sentiment and nationalism. We watch, full of conflict ourselves, as a man reluctantly experiences the first stirrings of intimacy in a decade as he slowly dances with an incidental woman. He describes it as his swan song the next day. Melodrama deconstructs itself. This is the story of three childhood friends, long-separated, who grew up in a world that failed around them. Their lives emerge for us in both subtle and startling glimpses: prison-hardened Tazo takes a beating for the swindling Trulaila. Filthy stories are forthcoming, ending with maxims such as, “grandmothers are off-limits.” Our heroes are unable to remember what their grandfathers would yell, as they drive stubborn sheep from an abandoned building where they’ve taken shelter from the rain. These are Georgian men who have grown up in Georgia but are no longer sure they know what that means. One a former prisoner, one a failing actor, and one sells bric-a-brac to Europeans. In a scene utterly stereotypical yet magnificently original, the trio ends up in a restaurant drinking heavily and eating Khinkali and discover in each other what they had not even realized they had lost so long ago. Sounds saccharine? If you think so, it is only because you haven’t yet seen ‘Parade.’

Image source: tiff.net

In the quixotic character Trulaila, we sense these friends are the only people he has never cheated. In Guram, we see the storm of frustration under the cool and proud exterior of an ex-convict. And if the adaptation of aging Georgian men to art house should raise any misgivings, Tezo himself beats us all to them: “such films are dickheads walking back and forth on a railroad track,” he says, a line at which point the entire audience at the cinema erupted in applause.

Hemingway simply wrote about a big fish. "There isn't any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is the old man,” he said. “The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish.” We should also hesitate before seeing symbolism in ‘Parade.’ We watch the three flee a restaurant and take refuge in an obscene parade passing. With a fit of coughing, one staggers into a stable and collapses, just as a beautiful horse is lead out. “It’s getting cold,” Tezo remarks. I’ll let you, dear

reader, see what you will. ‘Parade’ is a Georgian film in the truest sense. Far from catering to European film critics and festival audiences, one is captivated by a dawning awareness that only Georgians will fully grasp its pathos and conflicts. Non-Georgians will understand Georgia better while perceiving how much they don't know. Expats will be left grappling with questions like, “Who the hell are we to think we know so much about Georgia?”

19th Tbilisi Int’l Film Festival, December 3-9

Photo by Ryan Sherman

BY LIKA CHIGALDZE

O

ne of Georgia’s favorite cultural events, the Tbilisi International Film Festival, opened in the capital of Georgia to bring together Georgian and foreign filmmakers, critics and film enthusiasts of all ages. The main theme of this year's Tbilisi Film Festival, the 19th edition, is “Literature.” The opening ceremony kicked off with festival director Gaga Chkheidze telling the audience about the presented sections and reminding them to expect numerous important screenings and interesting meetings within the frames of the festival. The opening was attended by Italian Ambassador in Georgia Antonio Enrico Bartoli since the focus country of this year is Italy. Numerous Italian films are being showcased, among them ‘Happy as Lazzaro’ by Alice

Rohrwache featuring Georgian actor Luka Chikovani in one of the leading roles. On December 8, the winners of Silver Prometheus for the best directing and Golden Prometheus for the best film will be revealed. In the National Competition, Georgian directors will be awarded in three categories: feature, documentary and short films. Besides the official awards of the festival, last year the EU established a special prize: the EU Human Rights in Film Award. This will be awarded to one of the seven films that depict Human Rights, selected from across the festival in order to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human rights. ‘Georgian Panorama’ will be judged by Erika and Ulrich Gregor, Co-founders of Arsenal, the German Institute for Film and Video Art and Berlin Film Festival International Forum of New Cinema, and Spanish film critic Eva Peydró. The international Competition jury comprises

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Lithuanian filmmaker Raimundas Banionis, Nima Javidi, Archil Kikodze, Kanako Hayashi, and Celine Nusse. This year’s Tbilisi Film Festival, besides presenting a diverse program of movie screenings, offers the audience inspiring workshops as well as meetings with renowned international directors. The guest of honor at the festival is British filmmaker Peter Greenaway, creator of the films ‘The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover,’ ‘8 ½ Women,’ and ‘Prospero's Books.’ Greenaway held a free-toattend master class on December 7 at the headquarters of TBC Bank. Yet another celebrated festival guest is UkrainianfilmmakerSergeiLoznitsawhose films were screened in the special section Director in Focus. The director’s latest movie ‘Donbass’ was presented at Amirani Cinema on December 5. The film unveils the degradation of post-Soviet society, showcasing the war-torn separatist regions of the Donbass. The film, which was banned from Russian cinemas, won the ‘Un Certain Regard’ award for Best Director at Cannes and was selected as the Ukrainian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards. After the screening of Donbass at Amirani Cinema, the Director was awarded a special prize, the Prometheus of Honor. During his visit, the filmmaker once again stressed that Ukraine and Georgia have a common enemy: Russia, noting that both countries feel the same about their occupied territories and the tense situation in the regions. “Our territory is still occupied by Russia; the war has lasted almost five years. We, Ukrainians and Georgians understand each other very well, and we both know what it is like to live under the pressure

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Thea Morrison, Samantha Guthrie, Amy Jones, Ana Dumbadze Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

of the Russian Empire. Few films were shot during the Soviet rule uncovering that period, yet since then this theme got forgotten and almost none of the directors thought about bringing it up again. It is crucial to me as a director to fulfill my main mission and show the reality to the public,” Loznitsa said. Another prize of honor went to distinguished Georgian film director Giorgi Shengelaia whose film ‘Alaverdoba’ was screened. Alavedroba (1962) was the first work of the iconic Georgian filmmaker and a feature-documentary film based on the same-titled novel by Guram Rcheulishvili, where the main character stands against distorted traditions. GEORGIA TODAY talked to Bacho Odisharia, a well-known Georgian film critic, who attended and watched a number of movies within the festival. “The atmosphere at the festival venue is great and it is a good fact that many people in Tbilisi unite not to protest something but to watch movies. The Tbilisi International Film Festival is essential for Georgia’s cultural life, and we should expand it and establish alternative festivals. Through developing and perfecting the existing festival, the event will become of high importance not only for our country but at an international level,” he said. “Among the competing films I would single out ‘Boys Cry,’ an Italian drama film directed by Damiano and Fabio D'Innocenzo. The film mirrors the Italian ghetto life and how the criminal world has swallowed society. The film does not romanticize the criminal world, as usually happens in crime movies, but on the contrary portrays becoming a gangster as a tragedy. I was also impressed by the film ‘Our Time’ by Carlos Reygadas. It is

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truly a fascinating work from visual, aesthetic and musical perspectives, simultaneously uncovering intimate and interesting conversations about love.” The festival also featured ‘Horizon’ by Georgian director Tinatin Kajrishvili. The director’s second feature had a World Premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival and on December 5, it was screened for the first time in Tbilisi. At the 10th anniversary of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, the film claimed the title of Best Narrative Film. The premier in Tbilisi was attended by the director, cast and entire crew, who after the screening answered the audience’s questions. Horizon focuses on the strain in the relationship of a couple once deeply in love and shows how the two undergo the process of separation. The festival closes on December 9 with the premier of ‘The Favorite’ (2018) by Yorgos Lanthimos, featuring famous stars Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz in the leading roles. The Tbilisi International Film Festival goes back to the 2000s. The festival was born within a larger art festival framework, with numerous supporters and sponsors. Later, in 2002, the festival transformed into a separate event and has gradually expanded over the years. The mission of the festival is to present new works of high artistic value made in Georgia and worldwide to the public, as well as introduce new trends in world cinema to society and support the development of the Georgian cinema industry. Currently, the festival is considered one of the major cultural events attracting both a local and foreign audience as well as bringing famous directors to the capital of Georgia.

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1107  

December 7 - 10, 2018

Issue #1107  

December 7 - 10, 2018

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