Tatia Kkhirtladze: Glory to the Queen

I had seen it before, in a rough cut version and in a final version. I had made notes but could not find them so I was happy, when the director Tatia Kkhirtladze asked her distributor Christa Auderlitzky from filmdelights in Vienna to send me a link.

And it was as fresh as the first time I met the film, entertaining and well made, full of joy and lovely archive from the time of Soviet Georgia. Because of the four chess masters looking back, reflecting on what chess has meant to them in their lives as stars, world champions, public figures in Georgia and worshipped abroad, especially in Serbia, where Milunka Lazarevic, a grandmaster herself, is the one who says clever words about the four, especially about ”The Queen”, Nona Gaprindashvili, whose first name is carried by a huge amount of Georgians, as the film proves. Nona has this special sports winning gene that kept her on the top for fifteen years and made her a carreer as a sportswoman in Sovjetunion. Her charisma is strong, she talks about FC Barcelona (writes this fan) and she gives the anecdote that astronaut Gagarin stayed away from a friendly billiard match with her, when he heard that she would probably be better than him!

Maia Chiburdanidze was the world champion, after Nona, also for 15 years. She sticks out from the three others in the way she dresses – the others are ”ladies” – and talks. She says that did not feel free before she lost and felt she played her best chess. A woman close to nature and a woman who produces perfume from herbs. And who loves to tease Nona who in her senior championship activity often is the one becoming number four or so. 

Nana Alexandria and Nana Ioseliani are the two other masters, who are also still active in chess clubs, where they teach kids about the sport or they go around beating men in tournaments. 

… and for me who has been there and love the food and drinks – there is so much to enjoy from Tbilisi and the countryside. Via the fine meetings with four women, as young and as mature grown ups, some grannies. You get the impression that chess has given them a good life.

The film had its world premiere earlier this month at the CineDoc 2020 Festival that runs until the end of this month. I don’t see any reason for the film NOT to travel to other festivals – written by someone who knows nothing about chess.

Georgia, 80 mins., 2020

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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