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Farewell: A Tribute to Elem Klimov and Larisa Shepitko

Farewell: A Tribute to Elem Klimov and Larisa Shepitko

When Russian director Elem Klimov died in October 2003, he left behind only five feature films from a career that spanned about 40 years. Yet this modest body of work bears all the imprints marks of a gifted auteur who whose range spanned everything from satiric comedies of contemporary Soviet life ( Welcome, no Trespassing, 1964 and Adventures of a Dentist, 1965 ) to dramatic epics that grappled with Russian and Soviet history ( Agony-Rasputin and Farewell, both 1981, and Come and See, 1986). It is not surprising that his last two unrealized projects would have united both tendencies: Klimov planned to adapt Dostoevsky " Devils " and Bulgakov's " Master and Margarita " , two of the greatest fantastic satires in Russian literature.

Elected as head of the Union of Cinematographers in 1986, at the beginning of perestroika, Klimov secured the release of a number of shelved films (including Askoldov " Commissar " in 1988). Klimov also set up a Conflict Commission to help rehabilitate banned films and directors and to promote new controversial films; like Gorbachev, in the west he became a symbol of the progressive tendencies that perestroika represented. In recognition of both his films and and his liberal policies, Klimov was made a member of the Directors Guild of America. The weight of all the political in-fighting soon wore him out, however, and he resigned from his post in 1988. Although intending to return to production, he was never able to make another film before his untimely death.

Klimov was married to director Larisa Shepitko, who he met in Moscow at the film school, VGIK. Regarded the first couple of Soviet film in the 1960s and 1970s, strangely, they only collaborated on one film together, Farewell to Matyora; Shepitko, was originally to direct the film, but tragically died in an automobile accident on the first day of shooting in 1979.

Ukrainian-born director Larisa Shepitko, one of the leading new luminaries of the Soviet cinema of the 1960s and 70s, was killed in a car accident outside of Moscow in 1979. She was but 40 years old, and at the very peak of her career, having won the Golden Bear at Berlin for THE ASCENT, her masterpiece. An extraordinary talent who seemed poised to become one of world cinema's most prominent female artists, Shepitko left behind a small but remarkable body of work notable for its beauty, boldness, evocative sense of place, and penetrating insight into moral and spiritual concerns. Foreign critics ranked her with Tarkovsky as one of the most important "new generation"

This series offers an opportunity to witness the extraordinary dialogue that existed between their bodies of work.