La Chasse aux papillons

by Otar Iosseliani

(Fiction, France/Germany/Italy, 1991, 115’, C, Fr ST)

with Narda Blanchet, Pierrette Pompon-Bailhache, Alexandre Tcherkassoff, Thamar Tarassachvili

La Chasse aux papillons

Châtelaine Marie-Agnès de Bayonnette lives in her family home with her cousin Solange. The lives of the two old ladies are governed by the traditional codes of aristocracy. When Marie-Agnès died, the heirs from Russia had to fight over the estate with a Japanese company that wanted to buy the property.

Pasinetti Prize at the Venice Film Festival 1992.

“This is simply the story of the intrusion of “advanced” and progressive strangers into indigenous people who live in a harmonious and closed world, according to outdated rules. It’s a phenomenon that happens all over the world… so I could have made this film anywhere, including Georgia. But I couldn’t have constructed a pure parable. I would have had to consider elements that were foreign to this tragedy, the struggle of a people against the heritage of Bolshevism. When you want to tell a fable, you must be like a chemist who works “in a vacuum,” in a laboratory, with unadulterated elements: a weakened lion is kicked by a donkey, a wise fox flatters a narcissistic crow, a stupid ant gives lessons to a lazy, poetic grasshopper…” Otar Iosseliani, Cahiers du cinéma, no. 461, November 1992

Trailer du film

Otar Iosseliani
Otar Iosseliani

Born in 1934 in Tbilisi, Georgia, Otar Iosseliani studied music brilliantly before starting scientific studies in Moscow, which he abandoned to join the National Institute of Cinematography in Moscow. His first short films Aquarelle (1958) and April (1961) were blacklisted in the USSR. His first feature-length film, Falling Leaves (1966), traces the daily life of a peasant community in a very impressionist style. His art of contemplative distance, similar to Jacques Tati’s, his acknowledged master, asserted itself with Once Upon A Time There Was A Singing Blackbird (1971) and Pastorale (1976). His work totters between fiction and documentary. His attraction to purely visual language brought him closer to the authors of the Nouvelle Vague Française: François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard. Despite their creator’s international reputation, these films were banned from export for many years. Based in France since 1982, Iosseliani directed his first French film Favorites of the Moon in 1984, which won the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Mostra. He then shot And Then There Was Light (1989), Chasing Butterflies (1991), Brigands, Chapter VII (1995), Monday Morning (2001) – Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin International Film Festival, Gardens in Autumn (2005). Outside his country, Otar Iosseliani manages to keep the humanist vision nuanced with humor and irony that made the success of his Georgian films. His latest film Chantrapas (2009) is an ode to freedom. It follows the story of a young director (alter ego of the author) who makes no compromise with censorship, whether ideological or economic, in the name of freedom of creative thought. He has also directed several documentaries for television: Euskadi (1982), A Little Monastery in Tuscany (1988) and Georgia, Alone, a documentary triptych of more than four hours about his country of origin.

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