Ivan's Childhood

A Long and Happy Life



The series is co-curated by Alla Verlotsky and Richard Pena . It is presented in collaboration with the Film Society of Lincoln Center with the assistance of Russian State Department of Cinema and Russian Film Museum.

This program is made possible through the generosity of The Trust for Mutual Understanding, the National Endowment for the Arts, George Gund and Iara Lee and with special thanks to Finnair.

For many film buffs, cinema two greatest decades have been the 1920s and the 1960s. Everyone knows the enormous role of Soviet cinema in the 20s: the work of giants such as Eisenstein, Pudovkin, Vertov, and Dovzhenko in many ways set the standard for groundbreaking, innovative film art. Less well known and appreciated is the extremely provocative Soviet filmmaking of the 60s, since most cineastes concentrate instead on the French New Wave, European modernists such as Resnais, Antonioni and Bergman, or the emerging cinemas of Eastern Europe and Latin America. The 1960s more a mindset than a chronological period, stretching from the last years of the 50s to the first years of the 70s was a decade of remarkable filmmaking in the Soviet Union. Encouraged (at least for the first half of that decade) by the Krushchev-era thaw in cultural policies and influenced by some of the cinematic developments abroad, a new generation of innovative filmmakers wanted to renew the cultural mandate of the 20s to create a new, revolutionary cinema for a new, revolutionary society, instead of reiterating the comfortable subjects and methods of socialist realism, with its exemplary heroes and obvious moral lessons. Still more exciting, this generation wanted to turn the camera lens on themselves and their contemporaries, exploring as candidly as possible the landscape of Soviet life and society. Even after Krushchev fell and Brezhnev assumed power, Soviet cinema would continue in this challenging direction, acting as a kind of lightning rod for the limits of expression and criticism.

This stunning series includes crucial early works by important artists of uncompromising cinematic truth and beauty such as Tarkovsky, Khutsiev, Muratova, Shukshin and Shepitko, among others. Another important feature is the inclusion of uncompromising films from the cinemas of the various Soviet ìrepublics,î such as Georgia, Armenia, and Lithuania; often these cinemas offered filmmakers far greater latitude in choice of subjects and film styles than they might have within the more rigid if better-funded confines of Mosfilm. A kind of ìprequelî to the Film Societyís sweeping retrospective on films of the glasnost era (1995), this exhilarating series discovers another treasure trove of Soviet movies and opens up a whole new vista of remarkable filmmaking in the 60s. ó Richard PeÒa























brief encounters




i am twenty

Ilya Averbakh, Lenfilm, 1972; 100m
One of the first � and, up until the Little Vera days, the very few � films to address the Soviet generation gap, MONOLOGUE manages to pull it off not once but twice: it saddles an irascible professor with a sudden return of his wayward daughter�with her own daughter in tow. Personalities clash and a comfortable routine crumbles, but family ties prevail. Aided by the script that has him philosophizing on toy soldiers and delivering florid speeches on the occasion of his own birthday, Mikhail Gluzsky creates an immensely memorable character. Popular leading lady Marina Neelova holds her own as the free-spirit offspring.
Fri Nov 10: 1 & 7*
Sun Nov 12: 7:30*

Kira Muratova, Odessa Film Studio, 1967; 96m
Shelved for 20 years over unfathomable "moral" objections, BRIEF ENCOUNTERS follows Nadya (Nina Ruslanova) on her quest for the attentions of Maxim, a famous geologist. The sexiness of geologists and generally scientists (see The Letter Never Sent and Nine Days of One Year) was at the time undeniable; here, it�s seriously helped by the casting � Maxim is played by Vladimir Vysotsky. A theater actor and cult singer of outlaw folk songs in 1967, Vysotsky would become a full-fledged national idol by 1970. Captured in BRIEF ENCOUNTERS at his most prolifically bearded, he is a tremendous screen presence. Kira Muratova wisely cast herself as a town official who shatters Nadya�s dreams by getting there first.
Fri Nov 10: 3
Sat Nov 11: 9:30









the cranes are flying

nine days of one year

there was a lad

Marlen Khutsiev, Mosfilm, 1964; 175m
What started out as a 90-minute story about three youngsters confronted with the ghost of the war (via a visit from one of the protagonists� dead father) instead became an epic three-hour journey through the young, post-Stalinist Moscow. When Khruschev was shown the early cut, he hated it � perhaps for the newfangled narrative techniques, the fantastical plot device, or the length � enough to necessitate a title change and re-shoots so extensive that the key part of the father ended up performed by a different actor. The result is a fascinatingly sprawling, urbane, contemporary drama.
Sun Nov 12: 4*
Tue Nov 14: 1*

Mikhail Kalatozov, Mosfilm, 1959; 97m
Tatiana Samoilova (the torn heroine of THE CRANES ARE FLYING) rejoins the director & DP team nonpareil, Mikhail Kalatozov and Sergei Urusevsky, for this fact-based drama about a geological expedition to Siberia that meets every imaginable obstacle (and setpiece) from Arctic frost to a forest fire. Urusevsky�s camera is every bit as unhinged in nature�s expanses as on the boulevards of Moscow. Innokenty Smoktunovsky, the definitive leading man of the Thaw � scientist, adventurer, and Hamlet � costars. The era�s typical sanctification of science, however, is given a nicely short shrift here: the geologists are hunting for diamonds.
Wed Nov 15: 1, 5 & 9
Thur Nov 30: 1

Mikhail Kalatozov, Mosfilm, 1957; 97m
This wartime melodrama (with the curiously American focus on the woman who stays behind) is the stylistic precursor to Kalatozov�s masterwork I Am Cuba. Sergei Urusevsky�s idiosyncratic wide-angle camerawork is a little more restrained here, but it still yields moments of jaw-dropping innovation. Some scenes appear shot with a yet-to-be-invented Steadicam: to deploy an easy pun, the cranes really are flying. Watch the lovers� farewell at the train station for the kind of liquid, choreographed marathon-length take that informed Godard�s Weekend and Scorsese�s Mean Streets. Kalatozov is so supremely enamored with the visual side of his endeavors that, in the context of the 50s Socialist Realism, it amounts to mild dissent � and a sign of things to follow.
Wed Nov 15: 3 & 7

Mikhail Romm, Mosfilm, 1961; 110m
A film absolutely essential to the Soviet 60s, with the box office to prove it (24 million admissions), NINE DAYS OF ONE YEAR is a deeply ambivalent ode to science. Two nuclear physicists stand on the verge of a great � and alarming � discovery. One ironic and worldly (Innokenty Smoktunovsky), the other a Communist zealot (Alexei Batalov), they play out the divided soul of the Thaw, and director Romm extends the conflict to the film itself. Unfolding as it does against pointedly sterile surfaces of labs, airports, and classy restaurants, NINE DAYS ingeniously sells the Soviets on a vision of themselves as Westerners with Western concerns (e. g., technological guilt). Yet the film�s devastating masterstroke is to send one of the protagonists, irradiated and doomed, back to his countryside folks for a short stand-alone sequence: the effect is that of the Russian cinema revisiting its Stalin-era self, then withdrawing in slight terror.
Thurs Nov 16: 1 & 9
Sat Nov 18: 4

soviet cinema of the 60s at the walter reade theater

ivan's childhood

a long and happy life

nobody wanted to die

soviet cinema of the 60s at the walter reade theater


the first teacher

Sergei Paradjanov, Dovzhenko Film Studios, 1964; 97m
Paradjanov�s celebrated debut takes its nominal plot from a Carpathian folk tale but allows the hue and the motion to create their own mini-narratives � from the manic reds and swish pans of a country fair to the stark static monochromes of a treacherous winterscape. SHADOWS simultaneously feeds off and subsumes its folk-art origins � Paradjanov, a Georgia-born Armenian, laces the Ukrainian material with Middle Eastern mysticism to an effect that�s less specifically "ethnic" than pointedly un-Russian. The film is also a defiantly formalist affair, a color-drunk experiment in pure form; its emergence during the rule of Khruschev, the man who has had an Abstract Expressionist art exhibit bulldozed to the ground, is one of the brief triumphs of the Thaw.
Thurs Nov 16: 3:15
Sat Nov 18: 8:15

Vasily Shukshin, Gorky Film Studios, 1964; 101m
Shukshin, the preeminent Soviet writer of the "rural" school (derevenschik), directs his own story about the progress of the affable country lad Pashka Kolokolnikov. Or, rather, several stories: Shukshin revels in the rhythms of folksy storytelling, its love of bizarre tangents and inspired fibs. He does so even while saluting his fellow Moscow intellectuals with the casting of poet Bella Akhmadulina in a small role as a reporter. Leonid Kuravlev, who plays Pashka, also stars in Panfilov�s Debut.
Fri Nov 17: 1, 5 & 9

(New print courtesy of Martin Scorsese)
Andrei Tarkovsky, Mosfilm, 1962; 96m
Tarkovsky�s feature-length debut already has all the hallmarks of his later body of work (so, in fact, did the sole short that preceded it). From iconic visual signatures like apples and horses to the overarching sense of hushed anguish, Tarkovsky stakes his claim at the still-unique territory in world cinema with this tale of a soldier boy whose only recollections of peacetime are sun-blinded dreams about his mother. IVAN'S CHILDHOOD (formerly released Stateside as MY NAME IS IVAN) is a manifestly spiritual, not to say Christian, drama, outraged less by the war of its setting than by the general idea of violence. The Soviet censorship ushered it through as another glory-of-the-Army picture, to learn and compensate later by effectively shelving Andrei Rublev. IVAN'S CHILDHOOD was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival; three years later, one of the film�s cast � Andrei Konchalovsky � would return with his own directing nomination.
Fri Nov 17: 3 & 7
Sat Nov 18: 6:15

Gennady Shpalikov, Lenfilm, 1966; 90m
A master of curiously stylized dialogue, Shpalikov was in high demand as a screenwriter even before graduating from the State School of Cinematography. H.H. ter Balkt calls him "a soulmate of Bergman," the title most film scholars are too quick to bestow on Tarkovsky � and the poetic, meditative Life does have its similarities to Wild Strawberries, Russia�s favorite Bergman film. A pack of guitar-wielding hikers board the bus back to the city; a stranger falls hard for one of the passengers, the very young and very married Lena. "I want happiness that lasts. I won�t settle for less" is the film�s insistently reiterated motif. Shpalikov didn�t: suffusing the title with terrible ironies, he killed himself in 1974, and this remains his sole writing-directing credit.
Sat Nov 11: 5
Sun Nov 19: 4
Mon Nov 20: 1 & 5:15

(original Lithuanian title)
Vitautas Zalakiavicius, Lietuvos Kinostudija, 1963; 106m
A farm-set tale of family revenge worthy of Sergio Leone but equally steeped in Baltic rural literature, this Lithuanian drama was close enough to a thriller to become a nationwide hit after being dubbed into Russian. Aside from the commendably �Spaghetti Western� title and an extended, wordless ambush sequence in the middle, the film�s genre pleasures include Latvian leading lady Via Artmane, whose feisty presence has something of the young Bardot�s. Under the surface, however, the "loaded" setting � the Soviet postwar annexation of Lithuania � provides its own stories of Oedipal confusion and general lawlessness; in a much-discussed touch, the film begins and ends with a shot of a wooden roadside Mary.
Sun Nov 19: 6
Mon Nov 20: 3

Grigory Kozintsev, Lenfilm, 1964; 140m
Arguably the finest screen Hamlet of all time � even though the language barrier does somewhat moot comparisons between Smoktunovsky and Olivier � Kozintsev�s film won a special jury prize at the Venice Film Festival and, in 1967, was nominated for a Best Foreign Picture Golden Globe. By no means a "filmed play," Kozintsev�s HAMLET is profoundly cinematic; it is also swept clean of Freudian accoutrements and treated with somber fervor closer to Orson Welles�s Macbeth. Boris Pasternak�s modern-language translation is used for the dialogue. The tradition of the "active" (read: dissident) HAMLET, with his fixation on the imprisonment motif, would culminate 15 years later at the Taganka Theater � when national folk-singing icon Vladimir Vysotsky (see BRIEF ENCOUNTERS) displaced Smoktunovsky as the ultimate Russian embodiment of the part.
Sun Nov 19: 8:15
Thurs Nov 23: 1

july rain


sayat nova / the color of pomegranates
photo courtesy kino international

goodbye boys, goodbye


Andrei Konchalovsky, Kirghizfilm-Mosfilm, 1965; 102m
Based, like Larisa Shepitko�s HEAT, on a story by Chingiz Aitmatov, Konchalovsky�s directing debut similarly recasts frontier drama for Soviet Asia � which once again proves a fertile soil for such transplants (by the time the smash action-comedy White Sun of the Desert came out in 1970, Soviet critics have embraced "the Eastern" as a legitimate genre term). The story takes place in 1923 and begins with a Communist teacher�s attempts to set up a school in a Kirghiz village, soon enough acquiring a forbidden-love subplot. THE FIRST TEACHER has brought Kirghiz actress Natalya Arinbasarova the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival, and Konchalovsky a Golden Lion nomination.
Tue Nov 21: 1
Thurs Nov 23: 8

Marlen Khutsiev, Mosfilm, 1966; 103m
A romantic New Wave affair in which a love story is flanked by documentary street sequences, Khutsiev�s film is an engaging portrait of mid-1960s Moscow youth. Popular singer-songwriter ("bard") Yuri Vizbor, in a bold casting decision, plays one of the main parts; his sad and fanciful folk songs, as well as those by the even more celebrated bard Bulat Okudjava, provide the film�s soundtrack. Aleksandr Mitta, another principal, is better known as the director of the Soviet Union�s only all-out disaster movie, The Crew.
Tue Nov 21: 3
Wed Nov 22: 2:45 & 6:45

Georgy Shagelaya, Gruziafilm, 1968; 86m
The life of Pirosmani, a Georgian primitivist folk painter, is explored in dreamlike detail by his compatriot Georgy Shagelaya. The film�s curious sepia color scheme pays a subtle tribute to Pirosmani�s own artwork, which ranges from folk whimsy to unfettered drama.
Wed Nov 22: 1, 5 & 9

Sergei Paradjanov, Armenfilm, 1969; 75m
Paradjanov�s second feature takes even more creative chances than his debut, SHADOWS OF FORGOTTEN ANCESTORS. The film is a surrealist tribute to the history of the Armenian art. The Color of Pomegranates, its alternate title, sums up the sensuousness that permeates the picture; it�s "subversive solely in its beauty," wrote A. Ter Minassian in 1978 in Jeune Cinema. Paradjanov was thrown in jail on trumped-up sodomy charges soon after the film�s completion.
Thurs Nov 23: 3:45 & 10
Thurs Nov 30: 5

Mikhail Kalik, Moldovafilm, 1964; 97m
Kalik�s adaptation of Boris Balter�s novel, then a bestseller, is a wistful evocation of lazy teenage summer days cut short by the encroaching military draft. GOODBYE, BOYS was as noted for its sensual undercurrents as it was revered for the lyrical cinematography: in its definitive shot, scattered raindrops hit a beach, wet sand hardening into tiny medallions. Thirty years later, Kalik was to make And The Wind Returns � an intriguing postmodernist pastiche of this film and his own biography that mixes visual self-quotes, bits of the actual GOODBYE, BOYS footage and studio-lot recreations (where he�s played by an actor).
Thurs Nov 23: 6
Sat Nov 25: 4
Sun Nov 26: 4:15
Tue Nov 28: 3

Gleb Panfilov, Lenfilm, 1970; 91m
Inna Churikova virtually reprises her NO FORD IN THE FIRE part � a plain, naïve and excitable girl handed a Big Chance � but in a contemporary setting and in a slightly more light-hearted project. This time, her heroine is a factory worker who gets to play Joan of Arc (in the movies, no less) with only a community-theater part of Baba Yaga to her previous credit. The last touch is an industry goof on Churikova�s earliest parts; the director/husband Gleb Panfilov�s self-awareness is quite in evidence here, from the way in which the character�s ascent is shaped to mirror the actress�s, to the film�s set of a film set. In 1971, DEBUT won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
Sun Nov 26: 6:15
Tue Nov 28: 1
Wed Nov 29: 3

Gleb Panfilov, Lenfilm, 1967; 95m
An episodic melodrama set in the violent wake of the October Revolution, about a country girl who briefly manages to express herself through direct and furious artwork. The drawings themselves, quite Pirosmani-like, serve as chapter dividers. Apart from Alexei Solonitsyn�s role as a petulant Commissar (he�d had his own chance to paint in Tarkovsky�s Andrei Rublev), NO FORD IN THE FIRE contains a truly star-making turn by Inna Churikova. Cast for her "plain" looks, Churikova is in fact astoundingly beautiful � in a way that the cinema only began to embrace much later. Her wildly inventive, frequently comic and subtly eroticized acting amounts to one of the greatest performances in all of Russian film.
Fri Nov 10: 5
Sun Nov 26: 8:15
Thurs Nov 30: 1 & 9:15

Alexei German, 1971; 97m
This uncompromising war movie was banned for 15 years. Finding himself a POW during WWII, an apparently German soldier (Vladimir Zamansky) tries to convince his Russian captors that he�s actually one of them, a sergeant in the Russian army forced by the Nazis to serve in the enemy ranks. After a sympathetic officer (Fyodor Odinokov) prevents his being shot, Lazarev proves himself a hero on the battlefield � despite the constant attempts of Major Petushkov (Anatoly Solonitskin) to undercut his character. Filmed in gritty black and white, TRIAL stands as an especially auspicious directorial debut.
Wed Nov 29: 1
Thurs Nov 30: 3 & 7:15

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