Sapovnela / საპოვნელა

by Otar Iosseliani

(Documentary, USSR/Georgia, 1959, 17’, C, Fr ST)


The filmmaker follows the old gardener who, like a Demiurge, arranges nature to make it even more beautiful, creating beautiful floral compositions. The only color film made by Iosseliani before 1983.

“… The young director has fun making his many flowers dance and sing to the rhythm of the spellbinding music by means of skillful work on the montage. Exposed to the winds of nature or the dim light of the greenhouse, the flowers seem to be the choristers in an immortal pastoral symphony, almost born from beyond the grave. (…) Sapovnela is not a documentary, but a story about eternal nature, out of time. The filmmaker also becomes a painter and poet, he composes his own “Invitation au voyage”. Julien Morvan

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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