The Black Sea, with its rich history and contemporary geopolitical significance, is at the heart of the seventh edition of the London Georgian Film Festival. It takes place against the backdrop of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the fallout of which has made the Black Sea the focus of global attention. Vital for the world’s food supplies, for European security, and for economic links stretching all the way to China, the Black Sea finds itself at the fulcrum of global events. But this isn’t the first time it has been at the centre of history.
Over the centuries, its waters have witnessed myriad cultural exchanges, alliances and conflicts, defining the fates of empires and shaping the destinies of the nations on its shores.
Through its selection of films from these countries, Reflections on the Black Sea explores the lives and historical context of the peoples of the region.
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The programme favours emerging filmmakers, and almost half of the films are directed by women. Snow And The Bear is the debut of Turkish filmmaker Selcen Ergun, who made it against the odds in the male-dominated Turkish film industry (just 6% of Turkish films are directed by women). The film follows a young nurse called Asli, who arrives at a remote Turkish town cut off from the world by an endlessly harsh winter amid rumours of bears awakening early from their winter sleep, and mirrors the constant pressure of feeling unsafe as a young woman in Turkey.
The closing film is the international festival hit A Room Of My Own. This is a story of modern womanhood and female intimacy directed by award-winning filmmaker Ioseb ‘Soso’ Bliadze and co-written by actor Taki Mumladze, who stars as Tina, who has left an abusive marriage and moves in with hard-partying Megi (Mariam Khundadze). As Tina struggles to find her independence, she and Megi form an intimate bond which neither woman anticipated. Its release was risky; films with LGBT+ themes have been met with protests in Georgia. In 2020, Levan Akin’s And Then We Danced, which features a gay love story, was picketed by far-right activists and denounced by the Georgian Orthodox Church.