Tbilisi insider Q&A: Nina Andjaparidze

To walk around central Tbilisi with Nina Andjaparidze is to feel as if you’ve been invited into the exciting beating heart of the local social scene. Andjaparidze, the Director of the Tbilisi International Film Festival, seems to know everyone in town; moreover, she seems to know everything there is to know about the artistic heritage as well as the contemporary state of culture in Tbilisi. An afternoon wandering with Andjaparidze was one of the highlights of my Tbilisi visit.

Q: Define your occupation.
A: I started working for the Tbilisi International Film Festival in 2000 and became Director in 2002. I love my job. The festival aims to introduce the general public to new, highly artistic cinema production. It is one of the most significant events in Tbilisi’s cultural life and is highly regarded by both Georgian and foreign cinema experts. I’m very proud that festival has hosted world-famous stars as well as Georgian film directors and actors currently working abroad.

Q: What are the most magnificent things about Tbilisi in your view?
A: The medieval town has been preserved in the very structure of the streets in the Old Town. There’s also the ancient fortress and the city’s religious architecture. I can feel the Old Town when I walk in its streets, and each time I wander through familiar places look new to me. This, I think, is the most remarkable feature of this town.

Q: What would you most want to share with visitors about Tbilisi?
A: Visitors should find the way of life in Tbilisi very attractive. Tbilisi represents a mix of eastern and western traditions. Folklore, various traditions, songs and dances all embody this mixture. Taking a steam bath is one of the traditional attractions and should also be interesting for visitors.Q: Tell us about your neighborhood, Vere. It’s known for being home to artists and intellectuals.
A: Many visitors comment on the relationships between neighbors in Tbilisi. Houses in Tbilisi are structured around balconies and galleries facing a patio. This provides an open environment for communication between neighbors, an opportunity to share common joys and sorrows. This social atmosphere is what I like best about Vere.

Q: Where do you like to travel within Georgia?
A: Within Tbilisi, there are many places with beautiful views of the Old Town, like Narikhala Fortress. One of the best views is from the plateau of Mount Mtatsminda, the highest point in Tbilisi. Beyond, I like the mountain districts with their old villages. Some regions like Svaneti and Khevsureti haven’t changed much in centuries.

Q: How do you see tourism in Georgia developing?
A: I think that our numerous pre-Christian and Christian monuments should be at the core of the development of cultural tourism in Georgia.

Q: Lastly, how about a Tbilisi secret?
A: There are some strange places in Tbilisi, like the city’s underground tunnels. The tunnels were used to drain storm waters and also to serve as secret passageways leading away from the city’s fortresses. Reportedly there were also some secret tunnels connecting the state agencies during Communist rule. It is possible to walk the full length of the neighborhood of Sololaki underground, though this activity is more or less inaccessible for visitors.

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