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LOCARNO 2015 Competition

Winter Song or a taste for irreverence


- LOCARNO 2015: The latest irreverent film of Otar Iosseliani, a naturalised French Georgian director, is in the running for the Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival

Winter Song or a taste for irreverence

The global premiere of Winter Song [+see also:
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by Otar Iosseliani, in competition at the Locarno Film Festival, was eagerly anticipated by all. And the sparks of freedom that glimmer throughout the latest film of the French-Georgian director would certainly not have disappointed. Winter Song follows in the vein of Iosseliani’s previous films, stubbornly continuing to promote a type of cinema completely removed from any ‘representation’ of reality. His films scream freedom with an irreverence that is all his and elegantly out of style.

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To sum up, Winter Song is a rather gruelling piece, all the more so since in Otar Iosseliani’s films the storyline is merely used as a pretext, a narrative excuse. This leaves room for reflection almost immediately, on seemingly irrelevant things, everyday occurrences. The characters that inhabit Winter Song have, in addition to their differences, that are as historic as they are personal, rather extraordinary things in common. Like the similarities between a beheaded viscount who still grips his pipe between his lips during the Reign of Terror, an unlikely military chaplain with tattoos all over his body like some kind of gangster who baptises soldiers without scruples en masse, a Parisian homeless man who is crushed by a steamroller and a well-educated doorman who also works as a gunrunner. Winter Song is the spider’s web in which these characters toss and turn, meet, and carve out spaces in which to love, dream and hope. Otar Iosseliani observes this little world in an instinctive, detached way. Like his characters, who give the impression that they live in a dream tinged with irony, Iosseliani does not seem to be interested in the audience but on the contrary, pushes forward ignoring our expectations, which are gradually transformed into angst as the film goes on. We find ourselves waiting, anxious for something to actually happen, desperate to find an explanation, to explain the idleness of the chaotic activities playing out before our eyes. As in real life, in Winter Song, actions seem to go on forever, relentlessly following on from one another in an imperfect and unsatisfying continuum. The characters, prisoners of the gaze they are being subjected to, seem to completely ignore our presence, taking on an astonishing independence that mocks our low expectations. Society and its rules, everything which we are part of whether we like it or not, is ridiculed. Its contradictions are mercilessly laid out in the open. Winter Song is not (and does not try to be) an easy (or even pleasant) film, and yet it is fascinating. Its detachment enchants us, showing us an imperfect reality in which generosity and corruption paradoxically live side by side. Otar Iosseliani does not try to attach meaning to what it lacks, he simply observes what it is.

International sales of Winter Song are being handled by Les Films du Losange.

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(Translated from Italian)

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