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Lasha Khalvashi • Producer

“I try to keep some variety in making films”


- Cineuropa met up with producer Lasha Khalvashi, Georgia’s 2017 Producer on the Move, to discuss his work and the actual situation of the profession

Lasha Khalvashi • Producer

Before establishing his own company, Studio Artizm, Georgian producer Lasha Khalvashi co-produced the 2014 Berlinale title Brides [+see also:
film review
interview: Tinatin Kajrishvili
film profile
, by Tinatin Kajrishvili, and Vano Burduli’s Tallinn 2015 entry, The Summer of Frozen Fountains [+see also:
film review
interview: Vano Burduli
film profile
. He is now in post-production with Scary Mother by Ana Urushadze and Neighbours by Gigisha Abashidze, and at different stages of development with two new films by Kajrishvili: Horizon (in production) and Citizen Saint (in financing). 

Cineuropa: Tell us a bit about Scary Mother and Neighbours.
Lasha Khalvashi:
Both films are by first-time directors, and I strongly believe they are very talented young filmmakers with great potential. I’m sure they will find their place in the new Georgian cinema. 

The main character in Scary Mother is a 50-year-old housewife who goes after her lifelong dream of becoming a writer. She feels that, due to its content, her first book might be met with negative reactions from both her family and wider society, but she decides to go against her own instincts and, after she reads it to her family, it turns out her fears were well grounded. Shooting the film was very challenging and the budget was quite limited, so it's been tough, but we got some very positive feedback when we presented it recently in the Works in Progress section at the Vilnius IFF. We will release it this year.

Neighbours revolves around an old courtyard where generations of families have lived together for decades. An investor comes to buy their nearly ruined houses and build a skyscraper. Only one owner is against the deal, as he has worked hard to redecorate his part of the house. With this project, we won three awards at different festival markets; it is the first ever co-production between Georgia and Macedonia (Svetozar Ristovski is on board with his company, Small Moves Films), and is supported by Eurimages. Reactions from industry professionals last month at Istanbul's Meetings on the Bridge were very encouraging.

You are also working on two new projects by Tinatin Kajrishvili, Horizon and Citizen Saint.
Yes, Tinatin is a very talented filmmaker, and her debut, Brides,kick-started both our international careers. Horizon is about a couple in their forties, who decide to part ways without making any fuss. However, getting used to a new way of life turns out to be more difficult than they thought.

The project took part in Sarajevo's CineLink and Istanbul's Meetings on the Bridge, and David Herdies is on board as co-producer with Swedish company Momentofilm. We got state support from both Georgia and Sweden and some filming is already complete. We expect to release it in early 2018.

How do you pick your projects?
I try to keep some variety in making films. It’s a process I’m very passionate about. These films are different, but both were low budget and both needed special effort. It is very interesting to find ways to reach different audiences. 

How do you see the situation with production and distribution in Georgia?
Every year we make few films in Georgia; the lack of financing is a big issue here. Because of that, competition between large projects is very strong and some wait for years for a chance to get financed. We hope the Georgian government will increase its financial support for culture. The situation with distribution is sad. We don't have distribution support locally or from European organisations. The only solution to reach a wider audience is to distribute films through festivals. Georgia is really under-provisioned when it comes to cinemas; we have only a few multiplexes in the whole country.


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