La Fonte / თუჯ

by Otar Iosseliani

(Documentary, USSR/Georgia, 1964, 17’, BW, no dialogues)

La Fonte

After the banning of his second film April, Iosseliani worked for a few months in a metallurgical factory. A poetic and committed vision, the film La Fonte shows the harsh reality of the working-class world.

“Iosseliani’s tone is new and personal, because it puts less emphasis on Vulcan’s forges than on the men who work there. … Men watched by an attentive and loving “camera-eye”. Georges Sadoul, Les Lettres françaises, 2 September 1965.

“This sober and rigorous exercise in style, based on the refusal of both the picturesque and the anecdotal, reveals an author about to assert himself as the most specifically Georgian of his peers, in an authentically national cinematography, to prove that it is remaining rooted in profound cultural identity that we can best achieve the universal.” Marcel Martin, Le cinéma soviétique de Khrouchtchev à Gorbatchev, ed. L’Âge d’Homme, p. 77.

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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