Winners of the inaugural Georgian National Eliso Awards Revealed

Written by Vladan Petkovic for Cineuropa, 18.6.2024

The winners of the new Georgian national Eliso Awards, established by London-based actress Natalia Jugheli through the Nato Vachnadze Foundation, named after her great-grandmother, a pioneering actress of Georgian cinema, were revealed on 14 June in Gurjaani. Eliso is a 1928 silent film directed by Vachnadze’s husband, Nikoloz Shengelaia.

The awards, each worth circa €1,630 (5,000 lari), were given out in three categories. Last year’s Cannes Directors’ Fortnight hit Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry [+] emerged as the big winner, with Elene Naveriani winning Best Director and Eka Chavleishvili being crowned Best Actress. This way, the film repeated its feat from last year’s Sarajevo Film Festival, where the director and the actress won the same prizes (see the news). Meanwhile, Lomero Akhvlediani won Best Cinematography for his work on Luka Beradze’s documentary Smiling Georgia [+].

“The Nato Vachnadze Foundation’s first project, the Eliso Awards, is a love letter to Nato’s husband, Nikoloz Shengelaia, and at the same time, it celebrates sisterhood, as Eliso was played by Natos’s sister Kira Andronikashvili, who was repressed by the Soviet Union,” Jugheli told Cineuropa.

“We wanted to present the awards this year, as it aligned with Nato Vachnadze’s 120th birthday, and Gurjaani has a tradition of national celebration on her birth and death date – 14 June. Because we had little time, we decided to launch the awards with limited nominations, plus we wanted to support the filmmakers financially, which is very important in the present reality of the Georgian film industry. In the future, we will expand and include all categories.”

The international jury, consisting of casting director Dixie Chassay, actress-screenwriter Taki Mumladze, cinematographer-director Tato Kotetishvili, director-screenwriter Babak Jalali and director-producer Nino Orjonikidze, also gave out Special Mentions, including one for Outstanding Documentary Storytelling for Magic Mountain [+] by Mariam Chachia and Nik Voigt. The full list can be found below.

“The Eliso Awards are not only about celebrating cinema and tradition, but also about creating a space for reflection to make people think; it’s about understanding the past and confronting the present through the art of images,” said director Nino Kirtadze, a board member of the Nato Vachnadze Foundation. “The existence of the Eliso Awards in today’s Georgia can be defined as [a response to] the existential need for the art community to meet, celebrate, think, stay united and move forwards together.”

Here is the full list of Eliso Award winners:

Best Director
Elene Naveriani – Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry [+] (Switzerland/Georgia)

Best Actress
Eka Chavleishvili – Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry

Best Cinematography
Lomero Akhvlediani – Smiling Georgia [+] (Georgia/Germany)

Special Mention for Best Editing
Eka Tsotsoria – Self-portrait Along the Borderline

Special Mention for Outstanding Documentary Storytelling
Mariam Chachia, Nik Voigt – Magic Mountain [+] (Georgia/Poland)

Special Mention for Newcomers
Nina Eradze – Liza Go On Ani Mogeladze – Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry

Special Mention for Best Ensemble
Smiling Georgia – Luka Beradze

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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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