Russian WriterJulie Bertuccelli, Bernard Renucci Release date20 May 2003 (2003-05-20) (Cannes)
17 September 2003 (2003-09-17) (France) ScreenplayJulie Bertucelli, Roger Bohbot, Miguel Machalski, Alda Engoian, Gotcha Djavakhichvili, Bernard Renucci CastEsther Gorintin (Julie), Nino Khomassouridze (Marina), Dinara Drukarova (Ada), Temur Kalandadze (Tengiz), Rusudan Bolkvadze (Rusiko), Sasha Sarishvili (Alexi) Similar moviesFish Tank, Factory Girl, Jupiter Ascending, The Last Witch Hunter, The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, At the Edge of the Abyss
TaglineFor a mother, a sister and a niece, nothing is the same . . . Since Otar Left
Since otar left
Since Otar Left (original French title: Depuis qu'Otar est parti...) is a 2003 film by director Julie Bertuccelli, recounting the lives of three Georgian women in modern-day Tbilisi. It focuses on the attempts of a mother and daughter, Marina (Nino Khomasuridze) and Ada (Dinara Drukarova), to hide the death of Marina's brother in Paris from her 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 live together in the same run-down apartment in one of Tbilisi's oldest neighborhoods. 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 very close to her granddaughter, Ada. However, it is her beloved son Otar (an unseen character), that she is most attached to.
At the opening of the film, the audience learns that Otar Gogebashvili, although a doctor by profession, has recently moved to France because of the difficult economic situation in newly independent Georgia. In Paris, he works illegally on construction sites in order to financially 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 loves French culture, speaks perfect French but remains a Stalinist, even in 2002, whereas Ada is quite Westernized, and longs to follow her uncle's path and move to the West. Marina has university degree but due to the high unemployment in Post Soviet Georgia sells heirlooms at the market.
Their life then changes drastically when Marina receives a call from Otar's friend, Niko (Duta Skhirtladze), who had accompanied him to France. Niko bears bad news: Otar has been killed in an 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 decides 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 includes excuses into the letters, and initially succeed to allay 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 her library with unique French books collected by the generations 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, and told the truth by his neighbors. 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. Instead of confronting them, Eka offers them a gracious way out of their dilemma by pretending that she now believes Otar could not make a living in France and had decided to move to America. He did not tell his family in order to avoid admitting the failure of his original plan.
Not long after, they leave for the airport. Upon reaching the airport, Ada tells Eka and Marina to go ahead while she purchases a magazine. While the older women pass through the security checkpoint, Ada remains behind. It thus becomes clear that Ada has no intention of returning to Tbilisi, and intends to try to make a life for herself in France. The film ends with their tearful goodbye through the windows of the departure gate.