Otar Ioseliani and the French Connection

Julie Christensen, George Mason University

Georgian filmmaker Otar Ioseliani has been living in Paris and filming in Europe since 1982, although he divides his time between Europe and his native Tbilisi. Ioseliani's affinity with France is both personal and "national" -- Ioseliani's second language after Georgian was French, which he studied as a child. Like most Georgians, he identifies with France as an ancient culture of wine, beauty, and song. With "Favorites of the Moon," Ioseliani was credited with returning to the French the Paris of Tati et. al. In return for French praise and support (private and public), Ioseliani claims France as his second homeland and speaks French everywhere but in Georgia (and from time to time in Moscow). Ioseliani's French connection has given the director the opportunity to continue to make the films he wants to, in the film style and language and manner in which he is accustomed and, in the opinion of many, to continue to make "Georgian films" in a safe environment. That same French connection may have obscured Ioseliani from the English speaking world, however. In my presentation I will attempt to trace present and historical issues of distribution and promotion of Ioseliani's films beyond Europe in a range of formats. In the course of this project I hope to speak directly with Ioseliani, as well as with distributors and critics in a number of countries.