|Farewell: A Tribute to Elem
Klimov and Larisa Shepitko
There will be one screening in this series at the Aero Theatre (September 15, 2005).
For an all-too-brief period in
the late 1960s and early 1970s, directors Larisa Shepitko and Elem
Klimov were the golden couple of Soviet-era cinema. She was brilliantly talented,
strikingly beautiful and acclaimed for her intense, metaphysical portraits of souls in
turmoil (HEAT, YOU AND I, THE ASCENT). He was equally gifted, a social satirist of the
first order who mercilessly skewered Soviet society earning high-ranking enemies along the
way, in film such as WELCOME, ADVENTURES OF A DENTIST, AGONY-RASPUTIN. Like many love
stories, theirs had a tragic ending: Shepitko was killed in 1979 in a car accident while
scouting locations for her next film, FAREWELL TO MATYORA, a project her grief-stricken
husband Klimov would eventually finish as a testament to his wife. Klimov would go on to
direct only one more feature, the harrowing, anti-war masterpiece COME AND SEE (1985),
before his death in 2003.
This touring series, organized by Alla Verlotsky of Seagull Films in
New York, is a rare opportunity to see films by these legendary Russian directors -
including the long-unavailable, full-length version of Klimovs AGONY-RASPUTIN - !
"Farewell: A Tribute to Elem Klimov and Larisa Shepitko" is a presentation of
Seagull Films in collaboration with the Russian Federal Agency for Culture and
Cinematography and Cineconcern Mosfilm. Generous support for the series is provided by the
Trust for Mutual Understanding, George Gund III and Iara Lee.
Friday, August 12 - 7:30 PM
WELCOME, OR NO
TRESPASSING (DOBRO POZHALOVAT, ILI POSTORONNIM VKHOD ZAPRESHEN), 1964, 74
min. Director Elem Klimovs classic comedy satirizes the conventions of a
childrens Young Pioneer summer camp. The hero, Inochkin, is expelled for misbehaving
but he sneaks back into the camp, and is hidden by other children hide him. Klimov
daringly mixes a direct critique of the Soviet system with hilarious fantasy sequences.
Considered too dangerous by studio officials, the film was only released on
Khrushchevs orders. When he saw it, though, he enjoyed it, and asked why it
wasnt being shown. NOT ON
>>Also showing at the Aero on September
HEAT (ZNOY), 1963, 85 min. Larisa
Shepitkos debut feature, made when she was 25 years old, HEAT announced the
arrival a major new talent and went on to win prizes at the Leningrad and Karlovy Vary
Film Festivals. It was also made in grueling conditions on the barren steppes, the young
director falling ill and having to direct from a stretcher. An idealistic high school
graduate goes to work on a state farm, only to clash with its authoritarian, Stalinist
leader. Shepitkos haunting depictions of the wind-scoured landscape mirrored the
bitter emotional and spiritual hardships faced by the characters themselves. NOT ON VIDEO!
Saturday, August 13 - 7:00 PM Spielberg Theatre
THE ASCENT (VOSKHOZHDENIE ),
1976, 111 min. Director Larisa Shepitkos transcendent, metaphysical masterpiece, THE
ASCENT takes place in a Byelorussian war zone of occupation, captivity and collaboration.
The film alternates between Breughel-esque winter landscapes and tightly shot interiors as
we examine the consciences and fates of two Soviet prisoners of war. The film took best
prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 1977, and remains a completely unique example of
Shepitkos cinematic vision, on a par with the greatest films of Tarkovsky and
Preceded by: LARISA, 1980, 25 min. Klimovs documentary frames his wife
Shepitkos life and career, alternating between photographs and sequences from her
films. Movingly, the film reaches its conclusion with the last sequence Shepitko ever
shot. Throughout, Shepitko meditates on what it means to create and live. NOT ON VIDEO!
Friday, August 19 7:30 PM
Restored Original Version!
AGONY-RASPUTIN (AGONIIA-RASPUTIN), 1974 - 1981, 152
min. Director Elem Klimov takes an experimental approach to the tale of the legendary mad
monk, Rasputin. Klimov alternates between documentary footage from the period, which he
combines with color sequences of Rasputins deviancy, depravity and destruction.
Completed in 1975 and originally intended for the 60th anniversary of the
Revolution, AGONY was shelved until 1981. We are pleased to offer viewers a chance to see
a pristine print of Klimovs vision. NOT ON VIDEO!
Saturday, August 20 7:00 PM
YOU AND I (TY I IA ), 1971, 97 min.
Written by the brilliant screenwriter Genadii Shpalikov, YOU AND I demonstrates once again
director Larisa Shepitko's mastery of the character study. Her third film examines the
difficulties of the life and work of a Soviet scientist/doctor who is looking for peace
and his place in a world where he won't have to compromise his ideals. Featuring Russian
cultural icon Yuri Vizbor, the film recalls Marlen Khutsiev's JULY RAIN and Ilya
Averbakh's MONOLOGUE in its direct and personal portrayal of the Soviet intelligentsia.
And like these films, YOU AND I remains a ground-breaking testament to the culturally
innovative Thaw period, the only "liberal" decade in the history of the Soviet
Union. NOT ON VIDEO!
Friday, August 26 7:30 PM
FAREWELL TO MATYORA
(PROSHCHANIE S MATYOROI ) , 1981, 129 min. This film was begun by Klimovs wife,
Larisa Sheptiko, who died tragically on the first day of shooting in 1979. Overwhelmed
with grief, her husband Elem Klimov decided to take over direction of the film as a
tribute to her, and the result is one of the most unforgettable Russian films ever made.
Based on a novella by Valentin Rasputin, Klimovs film captures the struggle between
progress, in the form of a massive new hydro-electric dam, and the small hamlet that will
be flooded by the dams ever-rising waters, displacing villagers whove lived
there for countless generations. Here, Klimov stages some of his most haunting, indelible
sequences: those of ghostly figures silently crossing the water into the mist. NOT ON VIDEO!
Saturday, August 27 7:00 PM SPIELBERG
COME AND SEE (IDI I SMOTRI), 1986,
142 min. Director Elem Klimovs final film remains his most harrowing. Shot in muted
colors that even more grimly emphasize the barbarity of war in Nazi occupied Byelorussia.
COME AND SEE follows the teen-aged Flyora first into a band of partisans, then back to his
own destroyed village, where, with him, discover firsthand the brutal ordeals suffered by
peasants. One of the most unflinchingly powerful depictions of the devastations of war
ever put on film. A true masterpiece. COME AND SEE won first prize at the 1985 Moscow Film