- Since Otar Left
name = Since Otar Left
(Depuis qu'Otar est parti...)
caption = Film poster
Julie Bertucelli Bernard Renucci
Esther Gorintin Nino Khomasuridze Dinara Drukarova
runtime = 103 min.
language = Georgian/French/Russian
imdb_id = 0336264
"Since Otar Left" (original French title: "Depuis qu'Otar est parti...") is a 2003
filmby director Julie Bertucelli, based around three Georgian women living in modern-day Tbilisi. It focuses on the attempts of a mother and daughter, Marina ( Nino Khomasuridze) and Ada ( Dinara Drukarova), to hide the news of their brother's death from Marina's elderly mother, Eka ( Esther Gorintin). The film was widely well-received, and won the coveted Critics' Week Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
The three women all live in the same run-down apartment in one of Tbilisi's poorer areas. They bear many of the realities of life in modern Georgia, such as frequent power blackouts and dilapidated infrastructure. Amidst this, Eka remains the matriarch of the family. She retains an often fractious relationship with her daughter, Marina, but is extremely close to her granddaughter, Ada. However, it is her beloved son, Otar, that she is most attached to.
At the opening of the film, the audience learns that Otar (an
unseen character), has not long before moved to Francewith the intent of becoming a successful businessman, in order to support his family back in Georgia. Eka eagerly awaits Otar's regular phone calls and the money he sends home from France. The difference between the generations is apparent: Eka remains a Stalinist, even in 2002, whereas Ada is quite Westernised, and longs to follow her uncle's path and move to the West.
Their life then changes drastically when Marina fields a call from Otar's friend, Niko (
Duta Skhirtladze), who had accompanied him to France. Niko bears bad news: Otar (who we also learn was an illegal immigrant) has been killed in an industrial accident. Eka is elderly and fragile, and Marina and Ada both agree that the shock of the death of her beloved son could kill her. In a similar manner to the German film " Good Bye Lenin!", which was released in the same year, the pair decide to conceal Otar's death from Eka.
In order to create the charade, Ada forges letters from Otar. Eka grows worried about the lack of phone calls and the lack of money in the letters (as Ada and Marina are in no position to attach any), but the pair include excuses into the letters, and initially appease Eka's worries. Several other complications arise, but the pair deal with them in turn, and Eka remains unaware of Otar's death.
After some time, Ada grows reluctant to continue the charade, as she feels that lying to her grandmother is taking its toll. Ada and Marina discuss possibly telling Eka the truth, when instead the eccentric Eka decides that she wants to visit Otar in France. Before the pair can persuade her otherwise, she sells family heirlooms to raise the money, and purchases plane tickets for all three of them. Unable to persuade Eka not to fly to France, Ada and Marina accompany her along.
The story resumes in France, where Eka searches for any sign of her son. After several attempts, she finally locates the apartment where he lived, only to be finally told the truth by his neighbours. Eka breaks down with the initial shock, but soon recovers and returns to meet Ada and Marina, as they are due to return to Georgia. In a reversal of roles, and to the bemusement of the two younger women, Eka decides that it would hurt them to know of Otar's death, and pretends that he has gone to America without telling them.
Not long after, they leave for the
airport. Upon reaching the airport, Ada tells Eka and Marina to go on ahead while she purchases a magazine. While the older women pass through departure gates, Ada remains behind. It thus becomes clear that Ada has no intention of returning to Tbilisi, and intends to try and make a life for herself in France. The film ends with their tearful goodbye through the windows of the departure gates.
Awards and nominations
* [http://www.zeitgeistfilms.com/sinceotarleft/ Official site]
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