Otar Iosseliani. Biography

Isidoro Valcárcel Medina

After graduating from the Moscow Film School, the filmmaker, Otar Davidovich Iosseliani (Tbilisi, Georgia, 1934), learnt the job as an assistant director and then as an editor of documentaries at the Gruzija Film studios in Georgia before producing his own short films: Akvarel (1958) and Song About a Flower (1959). His third film, April (1962), was censored by the Soviet authorities. He worked as a sailor and as a factory worker for a time.


Otar Iosseliani. Argazkia: Henri Cartier-Bresson.

In 1964, he picked up a camera again to film Cast Iron (1964), where he started to break down the barrier that separates fiction from documentary. In 1967, he moved into feature films with Falling Leaves, with which he redoubled his criticism of a corrupt system and took away a FIPRESCI award at the Cannes Festival Critics’ Week. Following an emotional short film on traditional song in Georgia, Georgian Ancient Songs (1969), in 1971 he made his second feature film, Once Upon a Time There Was a Singing Blackbird (1970), a film with formal postulates a far cry from Soviet film, which was followed by Pastorale (1975), where the Georgian denounced the false idyllic image of collective farms. With this work, he won the Critics’ Award at the Berlin Festival in 1982, and in the same year, a retrospective was dedicated to him in Paris. He would not leave France. He began his life in exile with two documentaries for French television: Sept pièces pour cinéma noir et blanc / Lettre d'un cinéaste, filmed in 1982 in the streets of Pars; and Euzkadi été 1982, on the French Basque Country. In the following years, he filmed emblematic films, such as Favourites of the Moon (1984), A Small Monastery in Tuscany (1988) and the film shot in Africa And Then There Was Light (1989). After a melancholic Chasing Butterflies (1992), he returned to his homeland to film Seule, Georgie (1994). Once more, he won the Special Jury Prize in Venice for Brigands: Chapter VII (1996), his darkest film. With the turn of the century, he made two final works: Farewell, Home Sweet Home (1999, original title: Adieu, plancher des vaches!) and Monday Morning (2002).

Iosseliani has a marked style that is recognisable in every shot since his earliest works. Influenced by Tati, Buñuel, Keaton or Renoir, his filmmaking is characterised by his agility in the use of the camera, his liking for long shots –often recurring to background shots –, the depth of the field, the importance of detail and spaces where documentary and fiction hybridize. His films, filled with easily recognisable characters, are an argument in favour of traditional culture and a denunciation of the damage that comes with industrialisation. His style exudes a quest for naturalness in the building of the characters and the truthfulness in the relationship between men and the world. 


  • Akvareli / Acuarela (1958)
  • Sapovnela / Song about a flower (1959)
  • Ap'rili  / April (1962)
  • Tudzhi / Cast iron (1964)
  • Giorgobistve / Falling Leaves (1967)
  • Dzveli kartuli simgera / Georgian ancient songs (1968)
  • Ikho shashvi mgalobeli / There Once was a Singing Blackbird (1970)
  • Pastorali / Pastorale (1976)
  • Sept pièces pour cinéma noir et blanc / Lettre d'un cinéaste (1982)
  • Euzkadi été 1982 (1983)
  • Les favoris de la lune / Favorites of the Moon (1984)
  • Un petit monastère en Toscane / A little monastery in tuscany (1989)
  • Et la lumière fut / And then there was light (1989)
  • La Chasse aux papillons / Chasing Butterflies (1992)
  • Seule, Géorgie (1994)
  • Brigands chapitre VII / Brigands-Chapter VII (1996)
  • Adieu, plancher des vaches! / Farewell, homes sweet home (1999)
  • Lundi matin / Monday Morning (2002)
  • Jardins en automne / Gardens in Autumn (2006)
  • Chantrapas (2010)
Promoted by
Gobierno de Navarra
Organized by
With the aid of
Con la financiación del Gobierno de España. Instituto de la Cinematografía y las Artes Audiovisuales Acción Cultural Española Plan de Recuperación, Transformación y Resiliencia Financiado por la Unión Europea. NexGenerationEU

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