Acclaimed filmmaker Giorgi Danelia dies aged 88

Tbilisi-born Soviet filmmaker Giorgi Danelia photographed at a film set., 04 Apr 2019 - 18:41, Tbilisi,Georgia

Award-winning Georgian film director Giorgi Danelia, also known for his work as screenwriter and actor across decades, died in Moscow on Thursday after months of illness, local media reported.


The Russian press report quoted the filmmaker’s family as the news spread among the cinema community in Moscow and Georgia, where Danelia left a major mark.


The late director had been admitted to a Moscow hospital with pneumonia in February and placed under medically induced coma, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Georgian service reported.


Born in Tbilisi in 1930, Danelia moved to Moscow with his family shortly afterwards. Initially working as architect after graduating from the city’s Institute of Architecture in 1954, he discovered his lifelong passion in cinema in the second half of the 1950s.





Danelia photographed with celebrated late Georgian actor Sofiko Chiaureli. Photo: National Parliamentary Library of Georgia.


Joining the Mosfilm cinema studio, the creative graduated with a degree in film direction in 1959, under the mentorship of Georgian-born avant-garde filmmaker Mikhail Kalatozov.


My concept for a film begins with me visualising it, combining proportions of a picture and [creating] a rhythm of relativity. I received my initial education in architecture — I guess you cannot erase that mark,” the director was known to have said about his work.

Danelia directed over a dozen works starting in the Soviet “cultural thaw” of the 1960s that somewhat eased the rigid censorship of creative work during the Stalin years.


The creative made his first mark in cinema with Seryozha, a 1960 feature co-directed with Igor Talankin and awarded the principal prize of that year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. The film went on to claim two more awards from the United States’ National Board of Review and the Thessaloniki Film Festival.


Becoming known for a style of “sorrowful comedy”, as the director called his own work, Danelia’s other internationally recognised films included Autumn Marathon (Interfilm Award at the 1980 Berlin International Film Festival, Pasinetti Award at the 1979 Venice Film Festival).


The fantasy feature Kin-dza-dza! (1986), comedy Mimino (1977) and Don’t Grieve (1968) gained further acclaim and prizes for the filmmaker in Soviet Union and abroad, while Danelia went on to direct more films in the post-Soviet era.


The director was also awarded the title of the People’s Artist of the USSR in 1989 and the Order of Honour of Georgia in 2000, outlining his place in the Soviet and Georgian cinema legacy.