Georgiy Daneliya

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Georgiy Daneliya

Georgiy Daneliya (2010)
Born(1930-08-25)25 August 1930
Died4 April 2019(2019-04-04) (aged 88)
Occupation film director and screenwriter
Years active1958–2019
Notable work
Title People's Artist of the USSR (1989)
Spouse(s)Irina Ginsburg
Lyubov Sokolova
Galina Yurkova

Georgiy Daneliya (Georgian :გიორგი დანელიაGiorgi Danelia; Russian : Гео́ргий Никола́евич Дане́лия; 25 August 1930 – 4 April 2019), also known as Giya Daneliya, was a Soviet and Russian film director and screenwriter. He was named a People's Artist of the USSR in 1989.

Georgian language Official language of Georgia

Georgian is a Kartvelian language spoken by Georgians. It is the official language of Georgia. Georgian is written in its own writing system, the Georgian script. Georgian is the literary language for all regional subgroups of Georgians, including those who speak other Kartvelian languages: Svans, Mingrelians and the Laz.

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although, nowadays, nearly three decades after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia, the rise of state-specific varieties of this language tends to be strongly denied in Russia, in line with the Russian World ideology.

Peoples Artist of the USSR award

People's Artist of the USSR, also sometimes translated as National Artist of the USSR, was an honorary title granted to artists of the Soviet Union.


Early life

Georgiy Daneliya was born in Tbilisi into a Georgian family. His father Nikolai Dmitrievich Danelia (1902–1981) came from peasants. He moved to Moscow following the October Revolution, finished the Moscow State University of Railway Engineering and joined Mosmetrostroy where he spent the rest of his life working as an engineer and a manager at different levels. [1] Georgiy's mother Maria Ivlianovna Anjaparidze (1905–1980) belonged to a noble Anjaparidze family known since the 13th century and recognized by the Russian Empire in 1880. [2] She worked as a film director, a second unit director and an assistant director at the Tbilisi Film Studio and Mosfilm. Her sister (Daneliya's aunt) Veriko Anjaparidze was a popular Georgian stage and cinema actress who was married to Mikheil Chiaureli, a prominent Soviet film director. Their daughter Sofiko Chiaureli was also a famous actress who later starred in Daneliya's comedy Don't Grieve along with her mother. [1]

Georgians Caucasian ethnic group that are indigenous to Georgia

The Georgians or Kartvelians are a nation and indigenous Caucasian ethnic group native to Georgia. Large Georgian communities are also present throughout Russia, Turkey, Greece, Iran, Ukraine, United States, and throughout the European Union.

October Revolution Bolshevik uprising during the Russian Revolution of 1917

The October Revolution, officially known in Soviet historiography as the Great October Socialist Revolution and commonly referred to as the October Uprising, the October Coup, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Bolshevik Coup or the Red October, was a revolution in Russia led by the Bolshevik Party of Vladimir Lenin that was instrumental in the larger Russian Revolution of 1917. It took place with an armed insurrection in Petrograd on 7 November 1917.

Russian University of Transport (MIIT) (MIIT), or Russian: Московский государственный университет путей сообщения Императора Николая II (МГУПС, is the leading and largest higher education institution in the field of railway transport in Moscow, Russia, with more than 17,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. Every year about 25,000 top managers and specialists take professional development courses at MIIT.

In a year after Daneliya's birth his family moved to Moscow where he grew up and entered the primary school. By the time the Great Patriotic War started he and his mother were staying at their relatives in Tbilisi where they spent the next two years. His father was sent to the front line to build underground command and control centers. He didn't take part in battles, but was still awarded the rank of major general for his work. In 1943 the family reunited back in Moscow. [1]

Command and control or C2 is a "set of organizational and technical attributes and processes ... [that] employs human, physical, and information resources to solve problems and accomplish missions" to achieve the goals of an organization or enterprise, according to a 2015 definition by military scientists Marius Vassiliou, David S. Alberts and Jonathan R. Agre, The term often refers to a military system.

Major general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. The disappearance of the "sergeant" in the title explains the apparently confusing phenomenon whereby a lieutenant general outranks a major general while a major outranks a lieutenant.


Daneliya started his career by playing episodic roles in several movies directed by his uncle Mikheil Chiaureli. In 1955 he graduated from the Moscow Architecture Institute and worked as an architect for the next two years. In 1956 the Higher Director’s Courses were founded at the Mosfilm Studio, and Daneliya decided to enter them. His course was led by Mikhail Kalatozov, also a good friend of his mother. He graduated in 1959 and joined Mosfilm the same year. [1]

Moscow Architectural Institute - MArchI is a famous architecture school located in Moscow, Russia.

Architect person trained to plan and design buildings, and oversee their construction

An architect is a person who plans, designs and reviews the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to provide services in connection with the design of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the buildings that have human occupancy or use as their principal purpose. Etymologically, architect derives from the Latin architectus, which derives from the Greek, i.e., chief builder.

The Advanced Course for Screenwriters and Film Directors is a graduate or post-graduate course at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in Moscow, Russia. Formerly state-funded it is now independent from the state educational establishment in Russia offering professional education in cinematography, screenwriting, production and direction. Established in 1963 in the Soviet Union, but tracing its history back to 1956, the Advanced Course is the oldest professional qualification in the cinematographic arts in Russia for people with relevant higher education qualifications.

His first feature Seryozha (also known as Splendid Days outside of the Soviet Union) was co-written and co-directed by his friend Igor Talankin. It was based on the popular novel of the same name by a prominent Soviet writer Vera Panova and featured Sergei Bondarchuk and his wife Irina Skobtseva in the leading roles. The movie was well-received, and the same year it was sent to the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival where it was awarded with the Crystal Globe.

Igor Talankin Russian film director and screenwriter

Igor Vasilyevich Talankin was a Russian film director and screenwriter. His film Splendid Days won the Crystal Globe at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, and Tchaikovsky (1969) was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

<i>Seryozha</i> (novel) book by Vera Panova

Seryozha is a short novel by Soviet writer Vera Panova. Seryozha has also been translated as Time Walked and A Summer to Remember. Seryozha is a diminutive form of the name Sergey.

Vera Panova Soviet writer, playwright, journalist, screenwriter

Vera Fyodorovna Panova was a Soviet novelist, playwright, and journalist.

In 1963 Daneliya invited a young talent Gennady Shpalikov to collaborate on his first comedy film. By that time Shpalikov had already fallen out of favour for writing Ilyich's Gate , a movie which Nikita Khrushchev compared to an ideological diversion. [3] To avoid censorship, Danelia paid a visit to Vladimir Baskakov, one of the head officials at the State Committee for Cinematography, and assured him they had nothing tricky on their minds. After that the work became "easy, fast and fun". [1] They ended up with a movie Walking the Streets of Moscow inspired by the French New Wave, similar to Ilyich's Gate in style and mood. This alarmed the Artistic Council, an executive body responsible for pre-production and post-production. They saw no point in the movie. Daneliya and Shaplikov then came up with a "meaningful" episode (a floor polisher who works at the house of a big writer and criticizes beginning writers on this account), mocking the Council along the way, and a new genre of "lyric (or sad) comedy" which became Daneliya's trademark.

Gennady Shpalikov Soviet writer

Gennady Fyodorovich Shpalikov was a prominent Soviet Russian poet, screenwriter and film director.

<i>I Am Twenty</i> 1965 film by Marlen Khutsiev

I Am Twenty is a 1965 drama film directed by Marlen Khutsiev. It is Khutsiev's most famous film and considered a landmark of 1960s Soviet cinema.

Nikita Khrushchev First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev was a Soviet statesman who led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964. Khrushchev was responsible for the de-Stalinization of the Soviet Union, for backing the progress of the early Soviet space program, and for several relatively liberal reforms in areas of domestic policy. Khrushchev's party colleagues removed him from power in 1964, replacing him with Leonid Brezhnev as First Secretary and Alexei Kosygin as Premier.

The movie starred Nikita Mikhalkov in his first major role and became one of the most characteristic films of the Khrushchev Thaw. It was widely praised and officially selected for the 1964 Cannes Film Festival. Nevertheless, Daneliya's next work Thirty Three , a satirical comedy that made fun of the Khrushchev era, wasn't tolerated and became quickly banned from theaters after its initial release in 1965. According to Daneliya, it was still showed at small theaters and various clubs throughout the 1970s, so that by the time the so-called glasnost was proclaimed, it turned out that "everyone had managed to watch my super-banned movie". [1]

Daneliya decided to switch back to his sad comedies instead of straight-up satire. The following years he produced a whole number of highly successful movies that established him as one of the leading Soviet comedy directors. Among his most famous works were Afonya (1975) about an unlucky plumber, Mimino (1977) about a Georgian pilot's adventures in Moscow, The Autumn Marathon (1979) about a translator vacillating between his wife and mistress, and Gentlemen of Fortune (1971) where Daneliya acted as a creative director and a screenwriter.

Gentlemen of Fortune gathered 65 million viewers on the year of release and became the 12th most viewed Soviet film, while Afonya was seen by 62.2 million people, reaching the 15th place. [4] Mimino won the Golden Prize at the 10th Moscow International Film Festival. [5] The Autumn Marathon received the Golden Shell at the 1979 San Sebastián International Film Festival as well as two Pasinetti Awards at the 36th Venice International Film Festival.

In 1976 he was a member of the jury at the 26th Berlin International Film Festival. [6] In 1986 Daneliya directed a cult classic sci-fi film Kin-dza-dza! .

More recently, he was involved in an animation project Ku! Kin-dza-dza! (a straight remake of his earlier work Kin-dza-dza!) and was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Russian Academy of Cinema Arts. Between 2003 and 2015 he also published a trilogy of memoirs entitled "A Passenger Without a Ticket", "Toasted Drains To the Dregs" and "The Cat Is Gone, But the Smile Is Left". [7] They are written in a typical Danelian manner, mixing laugh-out-loud anecdotes with some sad memories and lyrical life stories.

Personal life

Daneliya was officially married two times. His first wife (1951–1956) was Irina Ginzburg, a lawyer, daughter of a high-ranking Soviet official Semyon Ginzburg, at the time a Deputy Minister of Oil Industry of the USSR. They had a daughter Svetlana Daneliya who also became a lawyer. Between 1957 and 1984 Daneliya lived in a civil union with an acclaimed Russian actress Lyubov Sergeyevna Sokolova who appeared in a number of his movies. They had a son Nikolai Sokolov-Daneliya (1959–1985), a film director and a poet who died at the age of 26 following an "accident". [8] Some claimed it was a drug overdose. [9] Shortly before his death Daneliya left the family for Galina Ivanovna Yurkova (born 1944), a film director and his regular collaborator since then. He adopted her son Kirill (born 1968) and gave him his surname; Kirill became an artist. Daneliya has six grandchildren.

In 1980 Georgiy Daneliya survived a clinical death after being diagnosed with peritonitis and spent a year in hospital. In his final years, he rarely left his apartment. According to his wife Galina Yurkova-Daneliya, he had been suffering from a progressing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for many years. [1] [10]


Similar to Leonid Gaidai and Eldar Ryazanov, Daneliya co-wrote screenplays to the majority of his movies (sometimes uncredited) and introduced many distinguishing trademarks in the process. After Thirty Three (1965) Yevgeny Leonov turned into his close friend and "a lucky charm". [1] For 30 years Leonov appeared in every movie directed by Daneliya, including several Fitil episodes, either in the leading, supporting or episodic roles. He also played the dual role in Gentlemen of Fortune . Their last collaboration was Nastya (1993) released shortly before Leonov's death.

The traditional Russian song "At the river, at the river, on the other shore Marusenka washed her white legs" performed by Leonov's character in Thirty Three also became their trademark song. According to the director, it was the only song he could recall at the time, and Leonov loved it immensely. [1] It could be heard in all Daneliya's movies that feature Leonov, with the exception of Hopelessly Lost . It's not always easy to spot though, as it is performed by different people, in different languages, sometimes even whistled.

Many of Daneliya's films also featured his Georgian friend Vakhtang Kikabidze. The dual role of Yakov and Merab Papashvili in Passport was also written with Kikabidze in mind, but French producers insisted that it should be given to a French actor (Gérard Darmon played the part). [1]

Starting with Don't Grieve (1969) every one of Daneliya's movies also featured a mysterious man named R. Khobua listed in the "Credits" section among episodic actors. Rene Khobua was in fact a simple Georgian builder whom Daneliya and Gabriadze accidentally met while working on the screenplay for Don't Grieve. They decided to "test" different versions of screenplay on a regular viewer who agreed to listen. After several days of intensive "testing" it turned out that Khobua didn't understand a thing because of his poor Russian, and that he arrived with an urgent task from his employees, but was too shy to mention it. Daneliya then decided to insert Khobua's name in all of his movies that followed. [1]

Daneliya regularly quotes his own movies. For example, an angry man from Walking the Streets of Moscow played by Rolan Bykov whistles a tune from Daneliya's previous film, The Road to Berth, while a fragment of the title song "I'm Walking the Streets of Moscow" could be heard in Thirty Three. The thief nicknamed Kosoi from Gentlemen of Fortune makes a cameo appearance in Nastya where he is also performed by Savely Kramarov in one of his last roles. The catchphrase "It's not wine, it's vinegar" from Don't Grieve was later repeated by the only Georgian character from Kin-dza-dza! , and the troll song from Tears Were Falling could be heard in Daneliya's latest film Ku! Kin-dza-dza! .


As director

As screenwriter


Honours and awards

Cannes Film Festival
Nika Award
All-Union Film Festival
Moscow International Film Festival
KF "Golden Duke"
ICF comedy films
International review of films in Acapulco
"Golden laurel wreath" the Foundation David Oliver O. Selznick
"Golden Aries"
State Prize of the Russian Federation
USSR State Prize
State Prize of the RSFSR Vasiliev brothers
Prize "The Wanderer"
Award "Triumph"
KF "Viva Cinema of Russia!"
Golden Eagle Award
MF debut film "The Spirit of Fire"
State Awards

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Georgiy Daneliya (2006). A Passenger Without a Ticket. — Moscow: Eksmo, 416 pages ISBN   978-5-699-12714-6
  2. A list of princely families recognized as the Tavadi and Aznauri nobility of Mingrelia. — Saint Petersburg, 1880
  3. Josephine Woll. Being 20, 40 years later
  4. Leaders of the Soviet box office at KinoPoisk
  5. "10th Moscow International Film Festival (1977)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  6. "Berlinale 1976: Juries". Retrieved 14 July 2010.
  7. Georgiy Danelia's bibliography at (in Russian)
  8. How did the son of Georgi Daneliya and Lyubov Sokolova die? interview with the widow Maria Daneliya at Sobesednik, January 20, 2011 (in Russian)
  9. Vladimir Basov: Everything about my mother Natalia Fateeva interview at Caravan of History, October 11, 2011 (in Russian)
  10. Georgiy Daneliya is fighting a fatal illness at Sobesednik, November 27, 2012 (in Russian)