Despite global shutdowns and closures, Georgia has continued to make a name for itself abroad in the arts and sports in recent months. Investor.ge presents some of these most exciting victories. From winning top awards at a prestigious wine competition in London to breaking another world record in weightlifting, here’s everything you need to know about Georgia’s breakthrough success stories this spring.
Young midfielder of the Georgian national football team Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has topped the Most Viewed Players section of transfermarkt.com, a site which assesses the value of football players around the world.
Following an outstanding performance last season in which he scored in consecutive World Cup qualifier games against Spain and Greece, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has attracted interest from major European football clubs. Some sources report that Kvaratskhelia may be acquired by the Italian Juventus football club or UK’s Leeds United football club, but while Kvaratskhelia’s father, a former footballer himself, confirms his son’s transfer from the Russian Rubin in the nearest future, Kvaratskhelia says that no concrete plans have been made other than that he is ready to play for a major Serie A or English Premier League team.
The country’s weightlifting team continued to make a name for itself as well, scoring another international success as Olympic champion Lasha Talakhadze received three gold medals and broke the European and world records at the European Senior Weightlifting Championship in Moscow this April. Talakhadze beat his own record with 245/253/263 kg in the clean and jerk and 211/217/222 kg in the snatch, finishing the championship with a combined result of 485 kg.
Snowboarder Revaz Nazgaidze won the grand prize in an International Ski Federation giant slalom in Bulgaria’s Bansko resort after finishing first among 23 other competitors in the men’s parallel giant slalom race in early April. With his results, Nazgaidze managed to beat two other podium finishers—Emre Boydak and Uras Ucanoglu.
The might of Georgia’s rugby team will be tested later this summer, as Georgia’s Lelos are set to play two test games against the current world champions, the Springboks, on their home turf in South Africa this summer before hosting Scotland in Tbilisi. On July 3 and 10, The Lelos will compete against South Africa’s Springboks, the winners of the Rugby World Cup 2019. This will mark the first time the Georgian team has played three consecutive games against Tier 1 teams.
Georgia’s spring winning streak continued with Shmagi Bolkvadze winning gold at the European Wrestling Championship in Warsaw on April 26, pushing his team to the third spot of the competition’s rankings. In the final match of the 72 kg division, Bolkvadze defeated Armenia’s Malkhas Amoyan with a total score of 4-1.
Star Georgian tennis player Nikoloz Basilashvili has once again brought his country into the spotlight after winning his fifth consecutive ATP Tour title at the BMW Open, defeating Jan-Lennard Struff in Munich, Germany in May. Basilashvili secured his fifth ATP Tour title by completing the BMW Open without dropping a set in five matches, the ATP Tour website reported.
Giorgi Shermadini, a player for the Lenovo Tenerife club and Georgia’s national basketball team, was awarded the Most Valuable Player of the Year prize of the top Spanish basketball league. On May 27, Shermadini received the highest possible score of 100 from the league votes of fans, reporters, players and coaches.
Georgian animation director Mariam Kapanadze’s work will be screened at the international Annecy Festival for short animated films in France this June. Kapanadze’s Abandoned Village short animation film was one of 205 other films that were selected to feature in the festival out of 2,700 submissions. Abandoned Village tells a story of a remote village slowly disappearing due to neglect and natural phenomena.
Georgia continued its cinematographic success this spring with a documentary on the lives of Georgian star female chess players, Glory to the Queen, which was featured in the South East European Film Festival in Los Angeles this April. Tatia Skhirtladze and Ana Khazaradze’s work explores how four Georgian women took over international chess competitions and offers a glimpse into how they live today.
Brighton 4th, a feature film by award-winning Georgian director Levan Koguashvili, will be screened in June as part of the 20th anniversary edition of the international Tribeca Film Festival in the United States. Koguashvili’s movie about a Georgian wrestler attempting to save his son in Brooklyn from gambling debts already won the Jury Prize and the ARP Selection Award at Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film Lab in 2019.
Another success story of the country’s cinema is the Nika Award of the Russian Cinematographic Arts Academy earned by Georgia’s director Dito Tsintsadze in late April for his feature Inhale-Exhale: a film about a former convict trying to rebuild her life after completing her sentence. The film has already won awards twice for Best Actress at international movie festivals in Shanghai and Minsk.
The highlight of Georgia’s cinematography this spring was the news of renowned director Lana Gogoberidze receiving the French Order of Arts and Letters (L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres). The order was passed on by the French Ambassador to Georgia, Diego Collas, who stated that Gogoberidze has become an irreplaceable persona of international cinematography and Georgian-French friendship.
In music, Georgian pianist Irma Gigani won first prize at the international Bechstein-Bruckner competition in Austria. Gigani was also awarded a special prize for the best performance of Mozart’s Piano Sonata and Bruckner’s Piano Fantasia. On June 17, Irman Gigani will be performing solo at Brucknerhaus.
The country gained recognition in the visual arts as well in recent months, with Georgia becoming a first-time participant in Mexico’s International Image Festival. As an invited country, Georgia saw the works of award-winning photographer Badri Vadachkoria, as well as filmmakers Nino Kirtadze and Dea Kulumbegashvili, displayed as part of the festival’s program.
Georgian video artist Andro Eradze’s exhibition opened at the New Museum’s Screens Series in April in New York. Screen Series: Andro Eradze focuses on the space between human and non-human perception, the space between the organic and the industrial or synthetic, interconnectedness between all things and the responsibilities that humanity inevitably holds.
And where would the country be without its wines? Almost 20 Georgian wine companies have been awarded gold, silver and bronze medals at the world’s most influential wine competition, the International Wine Challenge held in London this April. Kindzmarauli Marani’s Kindzmarauli Marani Kakhuri, 2013, received the principal award of the competition, and 18 other wines from Georgia were distinguished among thousands of other submissions from over 50 countries around the world.
There is big news for the country’s tourism destinations: the Vardzia Cave Complex, a 12-13th century monastery in the south of Georgia, was awarded this year’s Europa Nostra/European Heritage Award of the European Union. The project for the conservation and monitoring of the Vardzia complex, conducted between 2015-2019 in partnership with the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia, the Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA) and the Ilia State University Centre for Cultural Heritage and Environmental Studies, has become one of nine initiatives from across Europe to receive the prize for cultural heritage.
Were it not for the pandemic, Tbilisi may have experienced a flood of bookworms this tourist season. Tbilisi has formally accepted the official status of UNESCO Book Capital of 2021, for which it will hold book festivals, publisher events, conferences, performances, and organize author residencies. Along with students and artists, the Union of Tbilisi Museums, the Georgian National Film Centre, the United Nations Population Fund, the National Parliamentary Library, the Writers’ House of Georgia, the Giorgi Leonidze Museum of Georgian Literatur e, and the Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association will participate in the upcoming prestigious international literature project hosted by Georgia.
Online events aren’t always dreary. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week was held in a digital format in Tbilisi between May 6-9. A total of 15 selected designers showcased their collections to viewers worldwide on a digital platform with free access. On top of fashion shows, the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi platform offered a variety of multimedia content including virtual showrooms and interviews with designers.