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Friday, June 4

*** The final amateur talent contest of the series was held at the Gori Culture and Sport Centre on May 21. Participants representing the city's schools competed against each other in dancing, singing and recitation, each school having 30 minutes to present its performances. The event was financed with GEL 2,500 from the Gori Municipality Cultural Centre's budget.

The three winning schools, numbers 2, 11 and 1, were given substantial prizes while the rest received diplomas. Gori Municipality states that such activities help to reveal and develop artistic talent in pupils.

*** A new film by famous Georgian producer Otar Ioseliani was presented at the Cannes Film Festival on May 21. The film, called 'Shantrapa' (French for Wonít Sing) is a full-length work about a young producer who starts screening films in Georgia in the 1970s but is prevented from doing his job by the Soviet authorities. He then leaves for France where he meets a mermaid. Otar Ioseliani called his film a fairy tale, very different from his real life.

*** May 22 was International Day of Biodiversity. The Ministry of Environment Protection and Natural Resources arranged a variety of events to celebrate this day. Special activities were held all over Georgia, among which the Bird Hour project at the Botanical Garden in Tbilisi was the most significant. Thousands of pupils from 500 Georgian schools watched the birds and described them in order to increase their observation skills.

*** An exhibition called Pavement Memoirs opened at Gallery Vernissage on May 22. It showed works by a number of 20th century Georgian painters who opposed the Soviet regime in their art: Avtandil Varazi, Albert Dilbariani, Amir Kakabadze, Temo Machavariani, Vakhtang Rurua, Zaal Meghvinetukhutsesi, Vasil Varazi, Vati Davitashvili, Zura Sekhniashvili, Pridon Gotsiridze and Amiran Gogolashvili. The event was supported by the Ministry of Culture, Monuments Protection and Sport.

*** An educational centre was opened at Georgiaís Ethnographic Museum on May 22 as part of International Museums Day. The centre will serve students of different ages. At the opening they undertook short courses in visual anthropology and interactive lessons on ecology. They also learned about prehistoric technology.

*** Famous Dutch painter and photographer Ioke van der Berg and Professor Hip Hagort visited the Rustaveli National Theatre and Film University on May 22. The same day van der Berg's photo exhibition opened at the university. On May 23-28 van der Berg held a workshop for the students. The University also hosted the first international conference on Art Sciences, Art Practices, the Politics of Culture and Culture Management on May 23-25.

*** A programme called 'Multicultural Georgia-World of Myths', was held at the Georgian National Museumís Education Centre on May 22. It was dedicated to pupils of different nationalities living in Georgia.

A Museum representative stated that this programme began in 2009 and will be held annually. He added that in the age of globalisation the preservation of national values and the multicultural inheritance of the country are very significant.

This year pupils of different nationalities with artistic talent will come to the ethnographic museum to portray their mother countriesí myths and legends in paintings. The best of these will be exhibited and each artist will give a talk on what their painting is about.

*** A grandiose charitable concert was held by the Iavnana Fund at the Sports Palace on May 24. The Mgzavrebi, Frani and Nikolshow singing groups, solo singers Salome Korkotashvili and Niaz Diasamidze and dancing troupe the Sukhishvilis participated in the concert, as did the fund's founder, famous opera singer Paata Burchuladze. The fund has been blessed by the Patriarch, Ilia II. 54 families have already been given flats through the assistance of the fund, which also helps talented Georgian young people and gives them an opportunity to display and develop their talents in the most famous cultural institutions of foreign countries.

*** The Kote Marjanishvili State Theatre hosted the celebrations of the centenary of Giorgi Shavgulidze, the famous Georgian actor, on May 24. The event, supported by the Ministry of Culture, Monuments Protection and Sport, showed excerpts from films and plays he appeared in. Lots of famous Georgian actors and actresses participated in the event.

*** Batumi hosted the third wine festival organised by the Batumi and Lazeti Eparchies on May 24. The best wine makers were revealed by the jury of sommeliers over three days. 120 red and white wines, some of them produced by religious figures, were displayed at the festival.

Davit Khabeishvili`s Saferavi gained the gold medal. The winners of the second and third prizes were awarded silver and bronze medals.Other participants won monetary prizes. The event concluded with a concert.

*** Art Geneís new webpage and audio disc were presented on May 25 at Vake Park. The event was supported by the European Unionís representation in Georgia. The creation of the webpage and audio disc was co-financed by the EU grant programme Invest in People, which will also fund Art Gene for the next three years.

The Art Gene 2010 festival will be dedicated to the Georgian language and alphabet. The supporters of Art Gene are the Ministry of Culture, Monument Protection and Sport and the Tbilisi Mayor's Office. Business development centre Kavkasia is a partner organisation.

*** On May 25 Georgia qualified for the final of the Eurovision Song Contest through the second semi-final alongside Ukraine, Turkey, Israel, Ireland, Cyprus, Azerbaijan, Romania, Armenia and Denmark.

Sopo Nizharadze's song Shine was first finalist to be announced. At the subsequent news conference Nizharadze said that she was very pleased, especially since Georgia's song had been banned from last year's Eurovision for being too political.

"Georgia was really waiting for my appearance because last year we didn't take part in this greatest European show. We really expected this shining comeback and I hope Georgians are happy with my qualification. I will do my best to represent the country in a better way in the final and tell them what I really want to say," Nizharadze said.

Nizharadze is an award-winning artist. In Georgia, she is known through television shows and starring in musicals such as Romeo and Juliet. In the final she placed 9th, with 136 points.

*** On May 25 elderly Georgian emigrant Alexandre Bestavashvili arrived in Georgia on the invitation of the Georgian President. He was awarded the highest Presidential order on May 26. The 102-year-old fled Georgia in 1929 and has lived in England since then, chairing the Georgian diaspora there. He arrived in Tbilisi with his family and further relatives greeted him at Tbilisi International Airport.

Alexandre Bestavashvili plans to visit his native city of Gori soon. This is his second visit to his homeland, his first being in 2007.

*** A grand concert on Europe Square in Tbilisi wrapped up the festivities dedicated to Independence Day on May 26. The show began at 21:00 and the organisers promised many surprises. Nani Bregvadze, Manana Menabde, Davit Evgenidze and the finalists of the Nichieri (Gifted) show sang on a special stage.

Mariam Kakhelisvili opened the concert with the national anthem of Georgia. The final surprise was a concert by legends Boney M.

*** On May 28 the Georgian Catholicos-Patriarch received mothers who have lost their sons at the Youth Centre of Holy Trinity Cathedral. The Union of Mourning Mothers was founded with the blessing of His Holiness 20 years ago and has several hundred members.

At the event, dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the union, His Holiness blessed its members, who in their turn presented the Cathedral with a cross. The Patriarch called on the members of the union to take off their black clothes, the symbol of mourning.

*** Minister of Education and Science Dimitri Shashkin, Director of Microsoft Business Development Partnerships for Technology Access Dan MacFetridge and Intel Global Education Director for World Ahead Brian Gonzalez have signed an agreement in Batumi which envisages close cooperation between the parties.

On the initiative of the President of Georgia first graders will receive notebook computers free of charge. This programme will be piloted in Zugdidi, Batumi and Tserovani schools from the next academic year. The project is part of the broader programme to introduce world class standards in the educational system, as the children will use the notebooks to develop appropriate skills and integrate with the international education community. The computers have been designed by leading companies, experts and psychologists.

*** The Georgian Public Broadcaster will launch a cognitive reality show for 12th grade pupils from autumn 2010. Gia Chanturia, Director General of the GPB, said that they had officially bought the rights to produce this show from the BBC and pupils from all over Georgia will take part in it and demonstrate their abilities to TV viewers.