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Medvedkin, Aleksandr

Born: 24 February 1900, Penza, Russia Died: 20 February 1989, Moscow, Soviet Union (now Russia)
Aleksandr Medvedkin was born in Penza, Russia in 1900. In 1919, Medvedkin joined Budennyi’s Red Cavalry, where he began working in the Propaganda Sector and staged plays about the mistreatment of horses by the cavalrymen. In the 1920s he worked his way up the ranks in the Propaganda Division of the Red Army until he was transferred to the military film organization of the Red Army in 1927. Here Medvedkin began making short, satirical films that mocked military hygiene practices and bureaucracy. In 1931 Medvedkin set up a film studio in his “film-train,” and made and screened films throughout the Soviet Union. Medvedkin made his first feature, Happiness, for Mosfilm in 1934. In Happiness Medvedkin incorporates the satiric comedy of his early shorts and combines it with folkloric elements and contemporary concerns for the first Five-Year Plan such as collectivization. Chris Marker, whom Medvedkin met in 1963, later premiered Happiness in 1970 in Paris, assuring Medvedkin’s legacy in the West. Medvedkin’s 1937 lyric musical comedy, The Miracle Worker, is set on a dairy farm, but he turned to the big city for his next feature, The New Moscow. Medvedkin completed the film in 1939, but it was quickly withdrawn from distribution, possibly for its ambiguous reading of the Soviet capital. Medvedkin served on the front in WWII, documenting military action. After the war Medvedkin continued making documentary “film pamphlets,” and in 1969 and again in 1979 he was awarded the honor of “People’s Artist of the USSR.” Medvedkin died in Moscow in 1989.

Filmography:

  • An Unquiet Spring / Bespokoynaya vesna, 1956
  • Liberated Earth / Osvobozhdyonnaya zemlya, 1946
  • My zhdem vas s pobedoy, 1941
  • New Moscow / Novaya Moskva, 1938; (scriptwriter as well)
  • The Miracle Worker / Chudesnitsa, 1936
  • Happiness / Schastye, 1934; (scriptwriter as well)
  • Tit, 1933;
  • Dyra, 1932
  • Pro lyubov, 1932
  • Zapadnya, 1932
  • Pro belogo bychka, 1931
  • ...Duren ty, duren!, 1931; (scriptwriter as well)
  • Frukty-ovoshchi ,1931;
  • Derzhi vora, 1930
  • Polesko, 1930