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The News in Brief

Tuesday, January 16
President Vetoes Changes to Broadcasting Law

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili vetoed the controversial amendments to the Law on Broadcasting and returned the bill to the Parliament together with his objections.

The proposal, approved by the Parliament on third reading last month, envisages further expansion of powers of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB), and has been heavily criticized by civil society organizations and private broadcasters.

Margvelashvili announced his decision at a news briefing on January 15, saying many questions that had been raised by the bill’s opponents were “clarified” by the GPB management during his meetings. Margvelashvili, however, noted that there were “two very important questions” remaining.

The first, the President explained, related to the media advertisement market. “The advertisement market, which keeps private television stations running, is shrinking and in permanent decline,” he noted, adding that the entry of a publicly-funded television to the market was “problematic.”

“Media diversity is an important value for Georgians and the Georgian democracy and serves as the fourth branch of government, but it will not be able to fulfill its role unless it has sufficient resources and unless media diversity is guaranteed,” Margvelashvili said.

The President also said he shared the idea that procurement regulations required changes, but noted that instead of improving the existing “rigid” Law on Public Procurement, the approved bill entailed “an outright removal of the regulations, that were set to guarantee that the taxpayers money is spent transparently.”

Parliament Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze commented the President’s veto decision, saying the bill was “well-thought-out,” but adding that the legislature was ready to “discuss the veto and go through the issues that have been approved by the Parliament.”

’The Empty House’ among 10 projects picked for Berlinale co-production market

Film director Rati Tsiteladze and screenwriter Nino Varsimashvili will present their in-development feature The Empty House among 10 projects selected for the Berlinale Talent Project Market next month.

The work-in-progress film was selected for the shortlist of the co-production event which enables filmmakers to pitch their projects to producers and sales agents during the Berlinale festival.

It will be presented at the market event from February 17-21 with its setting of the 1990s civil war-torn Tbilisi, where Nino, a teenager sees her father return home after seven years in prison.

[F]inally [Nino’s] family, representing three generations, is complete. But soon things turn out to be different from what she had expected”, said a preview of the plot from the creators.

Based on a true story, Varsimashvili’s script is directed for the feature by Tsiteladze, within production of by Tbilisi-based ArtWay Film.

The project has already been recognised at co-production and networking events, granting Tsiteladze a Cinefondation Residence for the Festival de Cannes as well as the Open Doors' Special Mention Award at the Locarno Film Festival.

The Empty House has also been selected for the Berlinale Co-Production Market and shortlisted for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab of the Sundance Film Festival.

Apart from being considered by producers and sales professionals from around the world, the project will also compete for two monetary awards at the Talent Project Market.

The market project is a collaboration between the Berlinale Co-Production Market and Berlinale Talents.