Project Description

Medeas Daughters: Georgias pioneering women in the arts.

With filmmaker and writer Nana Ekvtimishvili and novelist Tamta Melashvili

Saturday 27 February – 15.15 – 16.35

Georgia is the legendary home of Medea, and of powerful medieval queens such as the 12th-century Queen Tamar, who presided over a golden age in literature. Women had the vote in Georgia’s first republic of 1918-21 as well as five women MPs. Women were prominent, too, among Georgia’s pioneering filmmakers, beginning with Nutsa Gogoberidze – an associate of Sergei Eisenstein – in 1927.

Yet what was their fate during 70 years of Soviet rule, and do women, and women in the arts, have the freedom today that was promised a century ago?

Meet screenwriter and director Nana Ekvtimishvili, whose feature films such as the Oscar-nominated In Bloom and My Happy Family (now streaming on Netflix) – both co-directed by Simon Gross – trace the constraints and blossoming of creative women in independent Georgia, and are landmarks in the rebirth of post-Soviet cinema. Her first novel The Pear Field – published in Elizabeth Heighway’s English translation in 2020 – charts the cruelty and abuses of a real ‘School for Idiots’ on the outskirts of Tbilisi where she grew up.

She is joined by author Tamta Melashvili, whose award-winning first novel, Countdown, about two teenage girls in a provincial town in an unnamed war zone, was written soon after the 2008 Russo-Georgian war. Her novel To the East fictionalises a suspected love affair between Tbilisi’s famous avant-garde poet Paolo Iashvili (a friend of Boris Pasternak) and the married poet Elene Bakradze. The novel intimates that 14 pseudonymous erotic poems attributed to Iashvili, who co-founded the Blue Horns in 1915, were penned by his secret lover. What might the continuing dispute over the authorship of these love poems say about Georgia today?

They are in conversation in the digital tavern with cultural journalist and critic Maya Jaggi, Artistic Director of Georgias Fantastic Tavern.

In association with The British Library in London

This is an online event. Bookers will be sent a link in advance giving access and will be able to watch at any time for 48 hours after the start time.

You can read an extract from Tamta Melashvili’s novel Eastwards, translated by Donald Rayfield, on Words Without Borders.

Please note: all timings are GMT

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