First Teacher

(1965) USSR

Directed by Andrei Konchalovskii

Written by Chingiz Aitmatov, Boris Dobrodeev, and Andrei Konchalovskii, based on a story by Chingiz Aitmatov. Cinematography by Georgii Rerberg. Art direction by Mikhail Romadin. With Natal'ia Arinbasarova, Bolot Beishenaliev, Darkul' Kuiukova, Idris Nogaibaev, Kasym Zharkinbaev, and Sovetbek Dzhumadylov.

In Russian with English subtitles


First Teacher was Andrei Konchalovskii's diploma-film, the film with which the young director completed his studies at the All-Union State Filmmaking Institute in Moscow. He chose a historical subject for his film. The end of the civil war in the early 1920s gave the new regime the opportunity to spread its ideology throughout its vast territory, and the fervent members of the Communist Party undertook this task with missionary zeal. Diuishen, The First Teacher to arrive in a small Kirghiz village has the daunting task of bringing both knowledge and belief in the revolution to a world that is not at all prepared for change.
It is fitting that this film can be shown in the context of the Pittsburgh Film Symposium Evropsk, Russia: Out of European Order. For Diushen's mission is more than a mission of political ideology. It is a reenactment of the oft-repeated drama of empire as enlightenment. Russia liberates the Kirghiz people by bringing knowledge and technology, and thus binds them to a new cultural and political center. As Russia reexamines it's national identity in the post-Soviet age, it is important to recall that this search is neither new, nor have the basic parameters changed over the past several decades. Or the past several centuries.


Andrei Mikhalkov-Konchalovskii was born in Moscow in 1937. His early studies throughout the 1950s were devoted to music at the Moscow Conservatory. In 1965 he completed his course of studies in film directing at the All-Union State Filmmaking Institute, where he worked with Mikhail Romm. He has appeared as an actor in such films as My Name Is Ivan and Lenin's Guard, and co-wrote the screenplay for Tarkovsky's masterpiece Andrei Rublev. His diploma film, The First Teacher, was quickly followed by his famous Story of Asya Klyachina, which was released in a strongly censored version in 1971. Despite official disapproval of that film, he continued a successful directing career in the Soviet Union and, in the 1980s, in the United States. His most recent films have been international joint productions.

Selected Director Filmography:

1965 First Teacher (USSR)
1966 The Story of Asya Klyachina, Who Loved but Did Not Marry (USSR)
1969 A Nest of Gentlefolk (USSR)
1974 A Lover's Romance (USSR)
1979 Siberiade (USSR)
1984 Maria's Lovers (USA)
1985 Runaway Train (USA)
1987 Shy People (USA)
1989 Homer & Eddie (USA)
1989 Tango & Cash (USA)
1992 The Inner Circle (Italy/Russia/USA)
1994 Ryaba My Chicken (France/Russia)
2000 The Royal Way (Russia/France)



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