An acclaimed actor-director in a prominent Georgian film dynasty, Georgi Shengelaya is the second son of renown filmmaker Nikolai Shengelaya, whose Eliso (1928) and Twenty-Six Commissars (1933) rank with the best silent films made in the former Soviet Union, and legendary stage-and-screen actress Nato Vachnadze. His older brother, director Eldar Shengelaya, heads the Association of Georgian Filmmakers and is presently serving in parliament. While a student at the Moscow Film School (VGIK) under Alexander Dovzhenko, Georgi Shengelaya made Alaverdoba (1962/67), a short feature about a pilgrimage to attend a traditional Georgian “Thanksgiving Day” at an ancient church. Folkloric and religious in tone, Alaverdoba embodied the national spirit - and was promptly banned for five years.
Returning to Tbilisi to work at the Grusiafilm Studios, Georgi Shengelaya again challenged the Soviet censors with what amounted to a small-scale national epic: Pirosmani (1969/72). A fictional, humanistic portrait of Niko Pirosmanishvili, it tells the story of a legendary primitive painter who died of starvation in 1918 and left behind few details of his life - like Vincent van Gogh, he was to achieve fame and recognition only after his death. Due to its religious implications (besides being is a thinly disguised Passion Play), Pirosmani was shelved by the authorities for three years.
As for Georgian Grapes, it follows in the director’s line of popular folkloric tales - Melodies from an Old Quarter (1973), Come to the Valley of the Grapes (1976), A Young Composer’s Odyssey (1984) - that reflect the daily life, the give-and-take humor, the easy-going bucolic existence of his people. Contrast the urban with the rural, add tongue-in-cheek dialogue, spice it with a rhythmic musical motif and an autumnal pastoral setting - and you have an enchanting Georgian fairy tale.
The days pass slowly for Lia amid the vineyards of a rural Georgian village. Still in the prime of life, her beauty is overlooked even by her husband Sandro, who runs the local car repair shop. Things change when Megi, the comely star of a film being shot nearby, happens upon the scene to get her car repaired. Lia knows a rival when she sees one - although she's also aware she doesn't stand a chance against a mini-skirt. Megi, however, has a few tricks up her sleeve too - she knows what a Cinderella needs to rid herself of the pumpkin.