The abrupt decision comes amid internal political tensions triggered by the war in Ukraine
Bidzina Ivanishvili, the 66-year-old billionaire who was once the prime minister of Georgia, today has a number of eccentric hobbies: The oligarch maintains a private zoo, residents of which include penguins and lemurs. He collects art, and has snapped up paintings by the likes of Monet and Picasso, in a collection with an estimated value of $1 billion. He has also built his own arboretum: Shekvetili Dendrological Park offers 60 hectares of old-growth cedar, eucalyptus, and cypress that Ivanishvili had brought to the arboretum, which is open to the public.
A recent documentary follows the trek of these massive trees as they are uprooted and transported across Georgia and replanted in the private seaside park. But most Georgians may never see it on the big screen.
Salome Jashi’s 90-minute film “Taming the Garden” premiered across Europe last spring, and has finally come home to Tbilisi. But after the film’s premiere last week, the Georgian Film Academy abruptly canceled all other screenings of the film.
In a late message to the film’s creator, the Academy said the film would “divide public opinion.” Jashi said she took this as a clear message that Ivanishvili did not want the film distributed in Georgia. It was a shock, she said, even after spending four years documenting the absurd extremes Ivanishvili will go to satisfy his wishes.