Kedi (2016 Turkish cat film)

Kedi is a feature-length YouTube cat video from Turkey. Or is it a documentary? We’ll get to that later. In any case, it’s a movie that chronicles the lives of seven Istanbul street cats and the humans who tend to them. Directed by Ceyda Torun, it made the rounds at international film festivals from February 2016, and as of March 2017 it has had a limited showing in arthouse- and indie-type movie theaters in the USA.

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In Bloom (2013 Georgian film)

In Bloom is a 2013 film directed by Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross. Set in Tbilisi in 1992, the movie depicts the lives of two teenage girls, Eka and Natia, as they deal with typical teen problems: boys, bullies, teachers, domestic violence, food shortages, armed gangs in the streets, and abduction and forced marriage.

In Bloom was the Georgian submission for Best Foreign Language Film for the 2014 Academy Awards.

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Corn Island (2014 Georgian film)

Corn Island (Georgian: სიმინდის კუნძული, Simindis Kundzuli) is a 2014 Georgian film directed by George Ovashvili. It depicts a summer in the lives of two Abkhazian peasants who grow corn on a small seasonally-formed island in the middle of the river that separates Georgia and Abkhazia. It was the Georgian submission for Best Foreign Language Film for the 2015 Academy Awards.

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Tangerines (2013 Georgian-Estonian film)

Tangerines (Georgian: მანდარინები; Estonian: Mandariinid; Russian: Мандарины) is a 2013 film co-produced in Georgia and Estonia. Directed by Zaza Urushadze, the film deals with the 1992-1993 War in Abkhazia. It does so, however, from an unusual perspective, namely, that of an Estonian living in Abkhazia. Tangerines was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film for the 2015 Academy Awards, but it lost to the Polish film Ida.

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Xenia Onatopp: Not Georgian

In the 1995 movie Goldeneye, the following exchange takes place between James Bond and the villainess Xenia Onatopp:

XO: Thank you, mister…

JB: Bond. James Bond.

XO: Xenia Sergeyevna Onatopp.

JB: Onatopp?

XO: Onatopp.

JB: Your accent…Georgian?

XO: Very good, Mr. Bond. You’ve been to Russia?

JB: Not recently. I used to drop in occasionally. Shoot in and out.

In fact, Xenia’s accent is not Georgian, but Russian (see video below). As I’ve discussed before, Georgian accents are fairly plodding, whereas Russian accents tend to be smooth and liquid. Probably the screenwriters chose to add this detail in order to avoid the Russian villain cliche while still keeping the story within the post-Soviet world. It also has the added benefit of signaling to the audience that Bond is worldly (“Wow, he can pick out an obscure accent, that’s some real secret agent stuff!”).

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Sergei Parajanov

Sergei Parajanov (1924-1990) was a Transcaucasian Soviet film director. He is best known for four weird art films: Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964), The Color of Pomegranates (1968), The Legend of the Surami Fortress (1984), and Ashik Kerib (1988). These movies are remarkable for their distinctive tableaux-style cinematography and their controversial use of ethnic and national symbols and imagery. For both of these, as well as for generally being an oddball and troublemaker, Parajanov was persecuted by Soviet officials and spent several years in prison.

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