During the Cold War, four legendary female chess players from Georgia revolutionized women’s chess across the globe and became Soviet icons of female emancipation.
I was born and raised in the Soviet Republic of Georgia, at a time of upheaval and historical transformation during the 1970s and 1980s. Nona Gaprindashvili, Nana Alexandria, Maia Chiburdanidze and Nana Ioseliani, the four best female chess players in the world at that time, who are the subject of my film, were my personal role models. Through them chess became for me a symbol of intellectual and personal emancipation and empowerment.
Glory to the Queen is a film about winning and losing on the chessboard and in life. It is a cinematic reflection on how women’s struggle for independence and their rebellion against powerful male systems echoes in individual and collective life stories.
Two of my protagonists Nona Gaprindashvili and Maia Chiburdanidze held the Women’s World Chess Champion title for almost 30 consecutive years. Nana Alexandria and Nana Ioseliani were hot on their heels. Nona was the first woman in the world to receive the prestigious title of Grandmaster playing successfully against men, followed then by Maia. The Soviet system celebrated them as idols as they achieved great success with so-called ‘male talents’ – such as analytical skills, intellect and combativeness. Having lived abroad in western Europe for the past two decades, I have observed from afar a lot of regressive and reactionary trends developing in Georgia and throughout the whole region especially with regards to the treatment of women.At some point, I started thinking about the heroines of my youth and I wondered what had happened to them. Nona, Maia and the two Nana’s history is largely unknown. Incredibly famous during their active time, nowadays they are only remembered by a few chess specialists. Glory to the Queen counteracts this forgetting, finally giving them the stage they deserve. In the film, they are followed separately in their private and public lives contemplating their past and the present. While they once played together on the same team, they were also competitors. The film shows the ambivalence of their relationship and their dedication to and love of chess. Unique archival Soviet era footage not only documents biographical commonalities and intersections, bonds and ties between the four women, it also reveals an unexpected side of Soviet propaganda.
The Serbian chess player and international journalist Milunka Lazarević plays the role of the narrator. The “Scheherazade” of chess history was the only person during the Cold War who nobody refused an interview. She knows all the stories and knows how to tell them well. She provides the viewer an extra dimension by giving a global perspective on this chapter in chess history that she compares to “landing on Mars or Jupiter.” Finally, Glory to the Queen has one more storyline: the “namesakes” – here we meet some of the countless women who at the time were named in honor of Nona, Maia and the two Nanas and now are a living reminder of our protagonists’ legacy in Georgia. A cleaning lady, a train conductor, a business woman and many others all tell us how each of them came to be named after the chess stars. Their sometimes touching, sometimes strange, but always moving stories paint a vivid picture of the contemporary generation.
Vienna, November 20, 2020
About TATIA SKHIRTLADZE
Born in 1976 in Tbilisi, Georgia, Tatia (Tamar) Skhirtladze works and lives in Vienna, Austria. Graduated in Art Education in Tbilisi and Vienna and in Fine Arts in the Netherlands, Enschede, she currently teaches video art at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. Her artistic work oscillates between visual arts and film, with a focus on site-specific as well as long-term mix media concepts. She works for different film production companies in Vienna as camerawoman and editor for documentary films, develops film education modules and conducts workshops on audio-visual artistic practices. Her first feature Documentary Glory to the Queen received Women in Film Best Pitch Award from EWA Network and Film Ceenter Serbia at the Fest Forward Film festival in Belgrade, Serbia
GLORY TO THE QUEEN, Documentary, 82 min, 2020 | P: berg hammer film, Amour Fou, 1991 Productions, Playground Produkcija, A/GE/RS | Women in Film Best Pitch Award, EWA Network/Film Ceenter Serbi, Fest Forward Film festival Belgrade, Serbia
ONE YEAR, Documentary short, 20 min, 2014 | P: SuK Bureau for cultural implication, Azerbaijani Cultural Center in Vienna
A JOURNEY WITH PETER SELLARS, Documentary, 2007 | R: Mark Kidel Production: P: Agat Films, F; Calliope Media, GB; WILDart FILM, A
FREE SPACES, Documentary, 2014 | R: Ina Ivanceanu, P: Amour Fou Luxembourg LUX, Amour
Fou Vienna, A
TESTA, Documentary, 2018, R: Karl-Heinz Klopf, P: klopf-kurz production
Glory to the Queen is not only a film about strong women, but was also produced by a strong team consisting almost exclusively of women: Karin Berghammer (berg hammer film), Bady Minck and Alexander Ivanceanu (Amour Fou Vienna) from Austria, Nino Chichua and Anna Khazaradze (1991 productions) from Georgia and Sarita Matjevic (playground produkcija) from Serbia.
GLORY TO THE QUEEN
Documentary | 82 min | AT, GE, RS | 2020
Premiere: September 4th , 2020 CineDoc Tbilisi
Ina Ivanceanu & Tatia Skhirtladze
Petra Zöpnek, aea
Alexander Dumreicher-Ivanceanu & Bady Minck
Nino Chichua, Anna Khazaradze & Linda Jensen
berg hammer film