Preview: Georgian Film Festival, ICA, London

Grainy nights in Georgia

Alice Jones
Tuesday 29 November 2005 01:00 GMT

Over the past few years, Georgia's most significant cultural export has been the curly-haired songstress Katie Melua. But the former Soviet republic has an illustrious film-making pedigree. Federico Fellini once described Georgian film as "a strange phenomenon, special, philosophically light, sophisticated and at the same time childishly pure". Now, British audiences will be able to judge for themselves as the British Georgian Society (BGS) brings a season of contemporary Georgian films to the ICA.

Georgia was considered one of the "creative capitals" of the Soviet Union, explains Leonora Lowe, the secretary of the BGS. After the dissolution of the USSR in 1991 and the civil war which followed, "everything stopped in its tracks, there was political, social and economic turmoil". In 2003, the Rose Revolution, which saw President Shevardnadze deposed in a bloodless coup, heralded the resurgence of the film industry.

Several of the directors showcased have not produced a film since the 1990s. Generous state funding collapsed overnight, explains Lowe. "Those films which were getting prizes at the 1993 Berlin Festival used up the last metres of film that were left in Georgia."

Tbilisi Tbilisi, by Levan Zakareishvili, is a gritty portrait of contemporary life in the capital, and took seven years to complete. It is one of only two films showing that was made entirely in Georgia. Many directors emigrated - a choice reflected in their films. A triple bill of With Rules, Meidani and The Debt examines the lives of Georgians living in Israel, Tblisi old town, Meidani and Brooklyn. Dito Tsintsadze's Lost Killers takes a darkly humorous look at the underworld existence of two bad contract killers.

More tragi-comedy comes in the shape of Putin's Mother, a documentary following the fortunes of the 77-year old Vera Putina who, in 1999, decided that Vladimir Putin was her lost son.

Today to 12 December (020-7930 3647;

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