David Vashadze • Head of exports and distribution, Georgian National Film Center
by Laura Nanchino
- Cineuropa chatted to David Vashadze at the Odessa International Film Festival to discuss the support available to Georgian productions
At the Odessa International Film Festival, Cineuropa met up with David Vashadze, head of exports and distribution at the Georgian National Film Center. At the gathering, he spoke at the panel discussion entitled “Development of a Regional Film Industry: Prospects and Tools” on 15 July.
Cineuropa: Since Georgia is a new member of Creative Europe in 2015, can you tell us more about it?
David Vashadze: It’s a good option for Georgia because before this, we could not apply for different European funds, especially MEDIA, and it was problematic. At the moment we are, so to say, partial members because of the problem we have with the WTO, but we became members of Eurimages. I hope that in the near future we can handle this problem and we will be full members of Creative Europe. Another thing is that we became members too late, so Georgian projects could not apply for different funding options, but I think that by next year, it will be improved.
Thanks to Creative Europe, there are many options: co-productions, festivals, many different platforms, training sessions, etc. This financing that we can get from Europe is really important for Georgia, because our economy is not so strong. This sole fund for cinema is meant to cover everything.
You mentioned in your presentation that Georgian films that were co-productions saw a great deal of success at Berlin (Brides [+see also:
interview: Tinatin Kajrishvili
film profile]), Venice (The President [+see also:
interview: Mohsen Makhmalbaf
film profile]) and Karlovy Vary (Corn Island [+see also:
interview: George Ovashvili
film profile]), as well as getting nominated for the Oscars. How do you explain this?
Well, maybe it’s because I’m from the fund, but I say it was thanks to the right selection procedures.
Have all of these films been helped by the Georgian National Film Center?
Yes, all of the films. 100% of the movies that are successful are funded by us – if we don’t count this year. So these films, like four or five films that we are financing, were presented at first-class film festivals. Another important thing is the generation that has appeared in Georgia. Their stories are very interesting, and that’s how it happened. Another very interesting thing that I always like to mention is that I am reading in different articles that there is a problem of gender balance in cinema: female directors are not so widely represented. In Georgia, it’s the other way around: most of the directors – successful directors – are female. Of course, there are male directors too, but it’s female directors mostly.
Can you tell us more about the Georgian National Film Center?
It was founded in 2001. Before this, we had the Soviet system, so during Soviet times, the government was financing film production and distribution. The owner was the director, and there was no producer. During the 1990s, because of economic stagnation, we had 12 years of doing nothing in the country. Then we forced through a law for support of cinema, and from 2001, there was a funded film centre based on the model of the European film centres. Later, it started working, and I can say that from 2009 and 2010, the projects that were supported by the Film Center became more and more successful.
How many projects do you support per year?
Well, it’s difficult to give exact numbers because we are the only fund. We have to support feature films, debut films, co-productions, documentaries, animation, short films and project development, all separately. The whole number per year is about 50 different projects from different categories that we’re supporting, but for feature films, we support about four projects per year.
For those interested in shooting in Georgia and Georgian co-productions, could you explain some of the incentives available?
We are in the final stages of implementing a cash-rebate system, and from next year onwards, we will have the system in place. We will try to make it as easy and as “producer-friendly” as we can. The main things are a 20% rebate with minimum spending at, right now, $300,000 for feature films, but maybe it can be less – we’re thinking about it. The minimum shooting period is three days in the country, and the government gives this money directly as cash-back. Starting next year, we will try to have a one-stop shop, so the producer comes to the film commission and the commission helps with everything. We have very low levels of bureaucracy; we don’t have special visas for filmmaking. European Union members can enter the country and work there without a visa.
Do you have any Georgian projects in development or coming out soon?
We have very good projects in development with directors who are already very successful, so I think next year will be good for Georgian cinema. We’ll come to very high-level festivals again. Last year was really good, and I’m sure about next year.