The 18th Film Festival’s Prometheus of Honor will be granted to Merab Kokochashvili
The 18th Film Festival’s Prometheus of Honor will be granted to Merab Kokochashvili
Festival in Media

This year, at the 18th Film Festival, director Merab Kokochashvili will be awarded a Prometheus of Honor and a special screening of his film, an outstanding work of Georgian cinematography "Big Green Valley" will be held.

50 years have passed since Merab Kokochasvhilis film "Big Green Valley" first came out on screens. The film which was named at the first place in the list of "Best Georgian Films" by Georgian film critics in 2006.

Merab Kokochasvhvili is from a 60s generation. The generation, which, as soon as came to filmmaking, opposed a soviet censorship and expressed its strictly established position on screens. Merab Kokochashvili was 5 years old when he played the role of Paata in Mikheil Chiaureli's film "Giorgi Saakadze". He says that he was terribly afraid of shooting because he had heard accidently that they were going to behead Paata. Despite the memories of communion with a cinema turned into nightmare, later, he enrolled in Moscow All-Union Institute of Cinematography, film directing department. He shot a degree work based on Vaja-Pshavela. "Withered Beech" was awarded with a special prize and silver medal at VI World Festival of Youth and Students in Moscow. As well, the silver medal was granted in Venice, International Film Festival. Later, he made the films: "Solomon Morbeladze" (Kardakar), "Holidays", "Mikha", and with screenwriter Merab Eliozashvili, start on working on "Big Green Valley". Giorgi Gersamia was invited as a DoP. Dodo Abashidze, Lia Kapanadze and Mzia Maghlakelidze were announced at leading roles.

Sosana is a shepherd, lives with his family in the village and with great respect and love, continues his heritage, doing his ancestors job. Sosana can't even imagine another life: nature, village, big green valley and a family - this is all his treasure, his world and an everyday life. Geologist start an oil exploration works in his village and modern civilization breaks into Sosana's world with all its grumble and noise of technology. Sosana is in contradiction with changes and its enforced break into a big, green valley bodes for destructing everything of value for him. The contradiction of two worlds - eternal one and the one brought by time, is mightily awaken in the life of Sosana the shepherd.

"But where's a collective farm? Where's the head of collective farm?" - that was the answer they got after examining the film. They didn't take much time thinking. They realized that they had to compromise to save the film and made some changes in the script. They made up a new character, an inevitable character for a soviet film - a head of collective farm. "Actually, nobody ever cared about what he would be like. He was just supposed to be in the movie. That's all" - remembers the director.

The first screening, was held in a Central Committee, like it usually happened back then. The screening was attended by the directors of supreme council and the council of ministers: Mjavanadze, Dzotsenidze and Javakhishvili. The whole screening was held in a deathly silence. At last head of KGB at that time, Inauri stand up walked several steps back and forth in the room and said in Russian: "We wasted 2 hours of working time". "I glanced at Dodo Abashidze, - says Merab Kokochashvili, - He was sitting there completely wet. Suddenly, Sergo Zakariadze entered into the room. At that time, he was a Lenin Prize laureate and a member of Central Committee. "May I say something?" - asked the actor. Sergo talked a lot, almost destroyed everyone gathered there. He based his speech on tragedy, drama and life. Lastly he even went to Shakespeare and Schiller. He said that is was a tragedy and a life is full of tragedy and that we can't shoot anything like this way! Then Mjavanadze turned round. He had a peeled tangerine in his hand and said: "ну пусть смотрит народ" (Lets people watch it). 

The film was shown in theatre Rustaveli on Monday. On Wednesday a letter appeared in press headlined "When the audience leaves the hall..." After that, the film was canceled, put on the shelves and it was never screened till 1976. In '76, a German journalist was here in Georgia attending the screening selections for Georgian films retrospective, planned to be held in Berlin, "Arsenal" theatre. "If "Big Green Valley" is not screened, the retrospective won't be held at all" - was proclaimed by the Germans. Theatre Arsenal was headed by famous film critics Ulrich and Erika Gregors, who had made many necessary and important steps for popularization of Georgian cinema. In this case, they made Georgian government make this step. The film was premiered just then in Berlin and was appreciated by the critics.

"Some critics still consider this picture made in 1967 as the best one in the history of Georgian sound-film. Eras and generations change but the story of a shepherd who can't give up the traditions of the ancestors, his hearth, so to say, "his own nature", is always perceived in a newly way. In "Big Green Valley" time changes the accents, the time itself enriches the film with the sense and time proves that Kokochashvili hasn't made so-called "film of actuality". That is because the audience and critics met the premiere of Big Green Valley in a quite cold manner. There were ordered articles published, like "When the audience leaves the hall" etc. The virtues of the picture revealed later and especially today in the era of Globalization, when keeping an identity is the problem the world cares about." - writes the film critic Gogi Gvakharia at the official page of "Radio Liberty".

Institute for Film and Video Art "Arsenal" restored and digitalized 3 Georgian films this year, including Merab Kokochasvhilis "Big Green Valley". Georgian film classic presented in Special Screenings will be shown in renewed format at our festival.


Salome Kikaleishvili


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