Otar Iosseliani is born on the 2nd of February 1934 in Tbilisi, Georgia. He studied piano in his hometown, mathematics and mechanics in the Moscow State University and in Alexander Dovzhenko's class in VGIK. In 1958 he directed his first short film Akvarel (broadcast on television) and Aprili (1961) which was banned in the USSR until the early seventies. In 1966 he directed his first feature film Giorgobistve which was presented at the Critics' Week at the 1968 Cannes Film Festival and won a FIPRESCI award there. However it is banned by Soviet censorship. The same fate follows his documentary Georgian Ancient Songs (1969). Lived Once a Song-Thrush, shot in 1971, is one of Iosseliani’s most emblematic works. Although the director is honoured as a highly achieving Georgian artist in 1979, that decade remains one of the darkest in his artistic career. It was only Pastorali (1975) which won a FIPRESCI award at Berlinale but that was in 1982 and the film’s premiere was held back for 4 years. In 1982 Iosseliani departed to France, where he lives and works to this very day. During the eighties, he films a number of documentaries and in 1984 Iosseliani directs Favourites of the Moon (Jury’s Special Award at Venice in 1984). In the following years his films were again awarded prizes at the Venice Film Festival – And Then There Was Light (1989) and Brigands-Chapter VII (1996) won the Jury’s Special Award whilst Hunting Butterflies won the Andrei Tarkovski Award in Moscow and Farewell, Home Sweet Home won the FIPRESCI award at the European Film Awards.
In 2002, the director won a Silver Bear for Monday Morning – the film was presented to Bulgarian audiences by Iosseliani himself at the 7th Sofia International Film Festival in 2003. The comedy Gardens in Autumn was included in the programme of the Sofia International Film Festival in 2007. For the occasion of the 15th Jubilee of the Sofia International Film Festival, Iosseliani will once again honoured us with his presence in order to introduce us to his latest drama Chantrapas.
Otar Iosseliani was awarded the Sofia Municipality award for outstanding achievements in world cinema in 2011.