History of the Georgian Cinema
Georgian film history began in late 19th century and the first cinema opened in Tbilisi in 1896; by the 1900s, there were several film theaters throughout Georgia. In 1912, Vasili Amashukeli and Alexander Digmelov directed the first documentary film Akaki Tsereteli Racha-Lechkhumshi, which effectively marked the begining of the Georgian film industry. In 1916, Alexander Tsitsunava made first feature film Kristine. After World War I, Tbilisi was second only to St. Petersburg in a number of cinema theaters and film productions in the Russian empire.
The Georgian film industry prospered in the 1920s, when a special unit was established at the Commissariat of People's Education in 1923 and later developed into Goskinprom (state cinematic production). This period produced several talented directors. Siko Dolidze's Dariko, David Rondeli's Dakarguli Samotkhe, Kote (Konstantine) Mikaberidze's Chemi bebia, Nikoloz Shengelaia's Eliso and Narinjis Veli, Ivane Perestiani's Arsena Jorjiashvili and Krasnie diavoliata, Amo Baknazarov's Poterianoe sokrovishe, and Mikhail Kalatozov (Kalatozishvili) Marili Svanets set standards in the industry and greatly influenced subsequent generations of Georgian artists. In the same period, Alexander Tsutsunava and Kote Marjanishvili, both coming from a theatrical background, introduced the best traditions of dramatic art into the Georgian cinema. Tsutsunava's most memorable films were Vin Aris Damnashave? and Djanki Guriashi while Mardjanishvili's Samanishvilis dedinatsvali remains one of the finest Georgian comedies. In 1929, Mikhail Chiaureli debuted with Saba and later produced his other feature film Khabarda.
Journey of Akaki Tsereteli in Racha - Lechkhumi
As the Soviet authorities strengthened, the Georgian film industry found itself increasignly under pressure to conform with official guidelines. Socialist realism became the dominant theme and the creative force gradually weakened. This was especially evident between the 1930s and early 1950s, when the cinema effectively became a propaganda machine for the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. In 1938, the Tbilisi Cinematographic Studio was established in Tbilisi. Several Georgians rose to prominence in this period, notably Mikheil Chiaureli who emerged as one of the most important Soviet filmmakers in the 1940s and became Joseph Stalin's favorite director; his movies contributed significantly to the creation of Stalin's personality cult. Among his important works were Velikoe Zarevo (1938), Giorgi Saakadze (1942-1943), Kliatva (1946), Padenie Berlina (1950), Nezabivaemii god 1919 (1952), etc. The success of the Georgian cinema was also due to a generation of talented artists, including Nato Vachnadze, Veriko Anjaparidze, Alexander Zhorzholiani, Sergo Zakariadze, Tamar Tsitsishvili, Ushangi Chkheidze, etc. Mikhail Gelovani became famous for his portrayal of Joseph Stalin in Vyborgskaia storona and Lenin v 1918 (1939), Oborona Tsaritsyna (1942), Kliatva (1946) and Padenie Berlina (1950).