Georgia is a country located in the Caucasus region of Eurasia, and its film industry has produced some remarkable movies over the years. Georgian cinema is known for its unique style, combining traditional storytelling with modern techniques.
It has also been influenced by various cultural and political movements, such as the Soviet era and the country’s struggle for independence.
Georgian cinema has gained recognition in international film festivals, and many of its movies have received critical acclaim.
Some of the notable filmmakers from Georgia include Sergei Parajanov, Tengiz Abuladze, and Otar Iosseliani. Their films have left a significant impact on the world cinema scene.
Best Georgian Films
In this article, we will discuss some of the best Georgian movies that have made their mark on the international stage.
These movies range from classic works of art to modern masterpieces and offer a glimpse into the rich and diverse culture of Georgia.
1. There Once Was a Singing Blackbird (1970)
“There Once Was a Singing Blackbird” is a Yugoslavian film directed by Miloš Forman, released in 1970.
The film is also known as “A Blackbird in the Wheat” or “Černý Petr” in Czech. It tells the story of a young man named Petr, who is sent to a small town to work in a store as a punishment for his misbehavior.
Petr struggles to fit in with the other workers and faces prejudice and discrimination due to his urban background.
The film is notable for its portrayal of the social and political tensions in Czechoslovakia during the 1960s. It was also one of Forman’s early films, and helped establish his reputation as a talented director.
The film was well-received by audiences and critics, and won the Grand Prix at the 20th Cannes Film Festival.
2. Pirosmani (1969)
“Pirosmani” is a 1969 Georgian film directed by Giorgi Shengelaia and Rezo Chkheidze, based on the life of Niko Pirosmani, a renowned Georgian painter who lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The film is considered a masterpiece of Georgian cinema and is one of the most famous works of Soviet cinema.
The film tells the story of Pirosmani’s life, from his humble beginnings as a peasant to his rise as a famous painter. It portrays his struggles with poverty, loneliness, and unrequited love, as well as his deep passion for painting.
The film also captures the spirit of Georgian culture and traditions, with scenes featuring traditional Georgian dances, music, and costumes.
The film’s visual style is striking, with many scenes framed like Pirosmani’s paintings, using bright, bold colors and simple, stylized forms. The film also features a memorable score by the Georgian composer Giya Kancheli.
“Pirosmani” was well received both in Georgia and internationally, winning several awards at film festivals, including the Silver Bear at the 19th Berlin International Film Festival.
The film remains a beloved classic of Georgian cinema and is considered a landmark of Soviet-era filmmaking.
3. Some Interviews on Personal Matters (1978)
“Interviews on Personal Matters” is a collection of conversations between Vladimir Bukovsky and several people who were prominent figures in the Soviet Union at the time.
The interviews took place in 1978, when Bukovsky was living in the United Kingdom after being expelled from the Soviet Union. The book covers a range of topics, from personal experiences to politics and philosophy.
Some of the individuals Bukovsky interviewed include the poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, the writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the physicist Andrei Sakharov, and the former KGB agent and defector Yuri Bezmenov.
The interviews offer a rare glimpse into the thoughts and opinions of these individuals, many of whom were outspoken critics of the Soviet regime.
One of the recurring themes in the interviews is the impact of Soviet totalitarianism on the individual.
The interviewees discuss how the regime had affected their lives, and how it had shaped their views on politics and society. They also discuss the role of dissent in the Soviet Union, and the challenges faced by those who dared to speak out against the regime.
Overall, “Interviews on Personal Matters” is a fascinating and insightful collection of conversations that offers a unique perspective on life in the Soviet Union during the late 1970s.
4. Blue Mountains, or Unbelievable Story (1983)
“Blue Mountains, or Unbelievable Story” is a short story written by Russian author Yuri Nagibin in 1983. The story is set in the Caucasus Mountains and revolves around the character of Aliokhin, a young man who embarks on a journey to explore the beauty of the Blue Mountains.
As Aliokhin travels deeper into the mountains, he encounters a series of surreal and fantastical events, including a village that appears and disappears at will, a lake that changes colors based on the time of day, and a group of mountain people who live in the clouds.
Throughout his journey, Aliokhin is accompanied by a mysterious figure known only as “the traveler,” who guides him through the strange and wondrous landscapes of the Blue Mountains.
As the story progresses, it becomes clear that the traveler may not be entirely human and that he has his own agenda for bringing Aliokhin into the mountains.
“Blue Mountains, or Unbelievable Story” is a masterful work of magical realism that explores themes of beauty, wonder, and the mysterious forces that shape our lives.
Nagibin’s vivid and poetic language paints a rich and evocative portrait of the natural world, while his fantastical plot blurs the line between reality and myth.
5. The Legend of Suram Fortress (1985)
The Legend of Suram Fortress is a Georgian film directed by Sergei Parajanov and Dodo Abashidze, released in 1985.
The film is based on a Georgian folk legend about a young man named Zurab who is tasked with finding a way to stop the fortress walls of Suram from collapsing.
The film is notable for its use of traditional Georgian culture, music, and architecture, as well as its surreal and dreamlike visual style. It is also considered a masterpiece of Soviet-era cinema and has been praised for its lyrical storytelling and poetic imagery.
The story follows Zurab, a young man who is determined to find a way to prevent the walls of Suram Fortress from collapsing, which is believed to be a sign of bad luck for the people of the region.
Zurab learns of a prophecy that states that the walls will only be saved if a young woman is buried alive in the fortress’s foundation.
Zurab falls in love with the young woman, and together they devise a plan to outsmart the prophecy and save the fortress without sacrificing a life. Their plan involves the creation of a statue that is said to have magical powers and can keep the walls from collapsing.
The Legend of Suram Fortress is a visually stunning film, with elaborate costumes, rich colors, and intricate set design. The film’s dreamlike quality is enhanced by its use of slow-motion shots, surreal imagery, and poetic narration.
The film was banned in the Soviet Union for several years due to its non-conformist style and themes, but it has since become a cult classic and is widely regarded as one of the greatest films to come out of Georgia.
6. Repentance (1987)
“Repentance” is a 1987 film directed by Tengiz Abuladze, and it is often regarded as one of the greatest Georgian movies ever made. The film explores the themes of power, corruption, and the struggle for justice, all set against the backdrop of the Soviet era.
The story revolves around a small town mayor named Varlam Aravidze, who is revered by his community as a hero. However, after his death, his corpse mysteriously disappears from its tomb, and strange events begin to occur in the town.
A local teacher and her son take it upon themselves to investigate the strange happenings, and they uncover the dark secrets of Aravidze’s past.
“Repentance” is a powerful allegory that critiques the corruption and brutality of Soviet-era politics. The film’s surreal and dreamlike imagery, coupled with its strong performances, make it a haunting and unforgettable cinematic experience.
The film won numerous awards, including the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1987, cementing its place in cinematic history.
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7. In Bloom (2013)
“In Bloom” is a Georgian film directed by Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Groß, released in 2013. The film is set in Tbilisi, Georgia during the 1990s, a time of political turmoil and civil unrest.
It tells the story of two teenage girls, Eka and Natia, who are best friends navigating the challenges of adolescence against the backdrop of a changing society.
The film portrays the struggles of the two girls as they face issues such as family violence, poverty, and gender roles.
The film also explores themes of tradition, identity, and the desire for freedom. The performances of the young actresses, Lika Babluani and Mariam Bokeria, received critical acclaim for their nuanced portrayals of the complex characters.
“In Bloom” was a critical success, winning numerous awards at film festivals worldwide. It was selected as the Georgian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards, but did not make the final shortlist.
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8. Scary Mother (2017)
“Scary Mother” is a 2017 Georgian drama film directed by Ana Urushadze. The film tells the story of Manana, a middle-aged housewife who decides to pursue her passion for writing and begins to write a novel.
However, her husband and children are unsupportive of her writing and dismiss it as a hobby. Manana’s writing takes a dark turn as she begins to write a story about a woman who chooses to leave her family for her art.
As Manana becomes more consumed by her writing, she begins to experience terrifying hallucinations and delusions, causing her family to question her sanity.
The film explores themes of artistic expression, gender roles, and mental illness. The title “Scary Mother” refers to the protagonist’s fear of being seen as a bad mother for pursuing her passion, as well as her own fear of the monstrous figure she sees in her writing.
“Scary Mother” received critical acclaim and won numerous awards at international film festivals, including the Best First Feature award at the Locarno Festival and the Best Feature Film award at the Sarajevo Film Festival.
The film is considered a breakthrough in Georgian cinema and established Ana Urushadze as a promising new director.
9. And Then We Danced (2019)
“And Then We Danced” is a 2019 Georgian-Swedish drama film directed by Levan Akin. The film tells the story of Merab, a young dancer from a traditional Georgian dance ensemble who falls in love with his male dance partner, Irakli.
The film explores themes of identity, tradition, and the struggle for acceptance in a conservative society.
Merab’s passion for dance and his growing feelings for Irakli are set against the backdrop of the strict gender roles and traditional values of Georgian society, creating a tension that runs throughout the film.
As Merab’s relationship with Irakli deepens, he becomes increasingly conflicted between his love for Irakli and his duty to uphold the expectations of his family and community.
The film also highlights the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in Georgia, where homosexuality remains a taboo subject and discrimination is widespread.
“And Then We Danced” received critical acclaim for its honest portrayal of the LGBTQ+ experience in a conservative society, as well as its stunning cinematography and powerful performances.
The film was selected as the Swedish entry for the Best International Feature Film category at the 92nd Academy Awards.
10. Taming the Garden (2021)
“Taming the Garden” is a documentary film directed by Iranian filmmaker Salome Jashi, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2021.
The film is a contemplative exploration of the relationship between humanity and nature, as seen through the lens of a group of wealthy businessmen in Georgia who undertake the ambitious project of transplanting ancient trees from remote regions of the country to their private estates.
The film follows the journey of these trees, as they are uprooted from their natural habitats and transported across the rugged terrain of Georgia, in a process that is both awe-inspiring and deeply unsettling.
Along the way, Jashi captures the beauty and majesty of the trees, as well as the logistical challenges and ethical dilemmas involved in their transplantation.
As the film unfolds, it becomes clear that the project is not simply about the trees themselves, but about the desire of the businessmen to exert control over nature and to create a sense of permanence and legacy through their ownership of these ancient living beings.
Jashi’s camera observes the tension between the power of the natural world and the human desire to dominate it, ultimately raising questions about the limits of our ability to control and manipulate the environment.
“Taming the Garden” is a visually stunning and thought-provoking documentary that invites viewers to consider their own relationship to the natural world and the ways in which we shape and are shaped by it.
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3 Characteristics of Georgian Movies
Here are three characteristics of Georgian movies:
Emphasis on traditional culture and customs: Georgian movies often incorporate traditional Georgian culture and customs, including traditional music, dance, and costumes.
This is evident in films like “The Legend of Suram Fortress” and “Tangerines,” which both showcase the unique culture and traditions of Georgia.
Lyrical and poetic storytelling: Georgian movies often feature lyrical and poetic storytelling, with a focus on metaphor and symbolism. This style is evident in films like “The Color of Pomegranates,” which is known for its highly symbolic and poetic narrative.
Non-conformist and experimental style: Georgian movies are known for their non-conformist and experimental style, often featuring unconventional storytelling techniques and visual styles.
This is evident in films like “Blue Mountains” and “Inhale-Exhale,” which both push the boundaries of traditional narrative structure and filmmaking techniques.
3 Reasons To Watch Georgian Movies
Unique Style: Georgian cinema has a unique style that blends traditional storytelling with modern techniques, creating a distinctive cinematic experience that is both artistic and thought-provoking.
Georgian filmmakers often draw inspiration from their country’s rich cultural heritage, resulting in movies that are deeply rooted in their national identity.
Cultural Insight: Georgian movies provide a window into the country’s culture and history, offering a glimpse into the everyday lives and struggles of its people.
Through its films, Georgia has been able to showcase its diverse cultural traditions, including its music, dance, and cuisine, and its unique blend of European and Asian influences.
Critical Acclaim: Georgian cinema has gained recognition in international film festivals, and many of its movies have received critical acclaim.
Georgian filmmakers have been able to explore a wide range of themes and subjects, from political upheaval and social injustice to personal struggles and relationships, creating a rich and diverse body of work that is well worth exploring.
Best Georgian Films – Wrap Up
Georgian cinema has a long and rich history, dating back to the early 20th century. Despite facing challenges and censorship during the Soviet era, Georgian filmmakers have continued to produce influential and groundbreaking films. Here are some of the best Georgian movies:
“Blue Mountains” (1984) directed by Eldar Shengelaia.
“Repentance” (1984) directed by Tengiz Abuladze.
“The Legend of Suram Fortress” (1984) directed by Sergei Parajanov and Dodo Abashidze.
“In Bloom” (2013) directed by Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Groß.
“Three Houses” (2008) directed by Zaza Urushadze.
“My Happy Family” (2017) directed by Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Groß.
“Corn Island” (2014) directed by George Ovashvili.
“Pirosmani” (1969) directed by Giorgi Shengelaia.
“Twenty-Six Commissars” (1933) directed by Mikhail Kalatozov.
“Tangerines” (2013) directed by Zaza Urushadze.
These films represent a variety of genres and styles, from historical dramas to contemporary coming-of-age stories. They showcase the unique voice and vision of Georgian filmmakers, and have earned critical acclaim and international recognition.