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Three films shortlisted for Georgia’s Oscar submission

Dea Kulumbegashvili’s Toronto- and San Sebastian Film Festival-winning feature Beginning will compete with Uta Beria’s Georgian-French-Italian co-production drama Negative Numbers and Odesa International Film Festival prize nominee Ursus  by Otar Shamatava for the selection of Georgia’s next Academy Award bid.

The three works were picked by a Georgian National Film Centre commission for deliberation, with the judges set to make their choice after screenings in the coming days and the final selection before October 10, the GNFC said on Friday.

Of the three candidate films, Kulumbegashvili’s debut feature claimed awards at the two festivals last month. The team of Toronto International Film Festival critics described it as a “brave and fresh quiet storm of a film”, and an “emotionally compelling debut feature by a filmmaker whose voice feels established and one to watch.”

Its plot sees harassment by a Jehovah’s witness and her family in a remote town in Georgia, where both the police and an extremist group subject them to violence.

Negative Numbers, a co-production that premiered last year at France’s Arras Film Festival and Rome Independent Film Festival and was supported by a production grant of Eurimages, is a NGFC competition-winning work based on a true story.

The drama shows former professional rugby players bringing their love for the game to a youth detention facility in Georgia. Also a debut work for Beria, it was described by the filmmaker as dealing with subjects of “dignity and respect [as] among the most important concepts in rugby, which comes into conflict with the system operating among the inmates, based on oppression and hate.”

Director Otar Shamatava’s Ursus is a four-way co-production between Ukraine, Germany, Bulgaria and Georgia produced in 2019 and featuring a cast of actors from the countries in a romantic adventure.

Its protagonist, a film director dreaming of winning Berlin Film Festival’s principal prize but having his dreams shattered by a destruction of his work-in-progress film in a fire, leaves his home country Georgia to travel across Europe, and discovers the love of his life in the process.

The next Academy Awards ceremony is set o take place on April 25, 2021.

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