First Georgian Film Bought by Netflix Receives another Prize at Sofia Int’l Film Fest

The Georgian film ‘My Happy Family’, directed by Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross, has already acquired world acclaim, and on March 18 was awarded Best Director at the Sofia International Film Festival, where it was nominated among 13 contenders from different countries.

My Happy Family first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in the World Cinema Drama Competition. Later, it was screened at the Berlin 67th International Film Festival where it fell in the spotlight of international media, with some even predicting candidacy for the Oscars 2018.

My Happy Family is the first ever Georgian production to which Netflix purchased the rights to global distribution, meaning that in future, the movie will be shown in 130 countries around the world. Until that time, viewers from France, Germany and Georgia will be lucky enough to watch it on the big screen.

Following its victory in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, the film has been sent to New York, where it will be screened at the Museum of Modern Art within the framework of MOMA Film Week. The New York Times covered this cultural occasion, naming Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross among nine directors whose movies are a must-see. The German edition Der Freitag assessed the film with the following words: “My Happy Family shows an interesting portrait of a woman, while depicting an imposing picture of society. The film could have enriched the main contest program [of Berlinale] as well.”

My Happy Family was released on January 22. It runs for 120 minutes and stars Ia Shughliashvili and Merab Ninidze. For Shughliashvili, this was the first leading role, which, to her private and our common pride and happiness, has proved to be triumphant. “I believe that this is the start of a new and grandiose stage in my life,” she noted following the Sundance Premiere. “The public reacted quite strongly. The film is saturated with humor, which was met with surprisingly corresponding welcome, and the end got a tanding ovation and left the audience looking very satisfied. I can say that the story of this one Georgian family really touched the hearts of Americans. I’m quite surprised by this. The story highlight national Georgian problems, but reached an American audience equally as well.”

Shughliashvili says her heroine is a very traditional Georgian woman, always making concessions, until suddenly she decides to look to her own well-being. “I hope Georgian women can find their own way to live doing what they love,” the actress says.

Manana Mkheidze, Ia’s characters, tears open the windows of her new flat and never closes them again. Distant street noises, cheerful birdsong and the gentle sound of the wind form the soundtrack to her new life. The 52-year-old has left her family, without justifying her actions, without any arguments. There doesn’t seem to be any fixed reason for her having moved out. When she’s asked why, she doesn’t say anything and thus turns the question around. It’s more family structures themselves from which Manana wishes to extricate herself. The roles you have to play, the functions you have to take on so that things keep running smoothly, but which also lead to your going under or becoming invisible. Now Manana sits at the open window, playing the guitar and singing Georgian songs the melancholy rhythm of which infuses the film. Whenever she happens to return to the family home, everything seems just as she left it: the grandmother is roasting a chicken, the grandfather is contemplating death, the adult children are waiting for their lives to finally begin, her husband Soso is chain-smoking and the wardrobe continues to squeak. This resembles the escape from the everyday routine, from the tiring obligations and duties… And then, back to life…

Nana Ekvtimishvili is a successful female Georgian director, one of those who stands in the vanguard of the Georgian film renaissance. Without any exaggeration, the phenomenon of Georgian film has always been strong. It managed to be maximally independence even during the strict Soviet censorship. Another directing duo of hers with Simon Gross, in the movie In Bloom, was also very successful internationally. The film premiered at the 63rd Berlinale, winning the C.I.C.A.E. Prize, and was selected as the Georgian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards.

Maka Lomadze

29 March 2017 20:58