Museum of the Moving Image will host one of the most exciting film events of the year: a presentation of an epic trilogy of films directed by Yuliya Solntseva, two of which will be shown in their spectacularly colorful, original 70mm formats. This marks the first time that all three films have been screened together in North America. Solntseva is the first female director to win Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival, a feat not repeated until Sofia Coppola won the same award for Beguiled this year. Yuliya Solntseva’s Ukrainian Trilogy will be shown August 26 and 27.
Soviet director, actress, and long-time collaborator of Ukrainian filmmaker Alexander Dovzhenko, her husband, Yuliya Solntseva directed and starred in more than twenty films. Both Solntseva and Dovzhenko produced “propaganda” films that were concerned with the meaning of revolutionary change, but these were films which also prioritized beauty and the poetic, firmly cementing their work in the realm of lyrical visionaries like Terrence Malick. Solntseva’s directorial pursuits were developed under the auspices of continuing her husband’s legacy, and as a result her reputation in an auteur-hungry world cinema culture has languished in her husband’s shadow. However, Solntseva’s singular prowess as a director adapting Dovzhenko’s lavish screenplays has been continually touted by such luminaries as Jonathan Rosenbaum and Jean-Luc Godard, and Solntseva was awarded Best Director at Cannes in 1961 for The Story of the Flaming Years.
Solntseva’s essential “Ukrainian Trilogy” will be presented in 35- and 70mm: Poem of an Inland Sea (1958, Honorary Diploma at the International Film Festival in London), The Enchanted Desna (1964, Special Diploma of the Jury at San Sebastián International Film Festival), and the aforementioned Flaming Years, which earned Solntseva the first Cannes award ever won by a woman director. All three offer profound ruminations on death and the meaning of life, grounded in dreams that make for fluid, operatic narratives.
Yuliya Solntseva’s Ukrainian Trilogy was organized by guest curator Max Carpenter with the cooperation of Gosfilmofond of Russia, Mosfilm, and The Museum of Modern Art. 35mm and 70mm prints courtesy of Gosfilmofond.
Desna and Flaming Years are also included as part of See It Big! 70mm, an ongoing series organized by Associate Film Curator Eric Hynes and Chief Curator David Schwartz.
SCHEDULE FOR ‘YULIYA SOLNTSEVA’S UKRAINIAN TRILOGY,’ AUGUST 26–27, 2017
For 70mm films, screenings take place in the Sumner M. Redstone Theater and tickets are $15 ($5 for Museum members at the Standard, Film Lover, and Kids Premium levels, free for Silver Screen members and above). Advance tickets are available online at http://movingimage.us.
Poem of an Inland Sea (Поэма о море)
SATURDAY, AUGUST 26, 2:00 P.M.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 27, 2:00 P.M.
Dir. Yuliya Solntseva. 1958, 95 mins. 35mm print courtesy of Gosfilmofond. In Russian with English subtitles. With Boris Livanov, Boris Andreyev, Evgeniy Bondarenko. Poem of an Inland Sea chronicles army general Ignat Fedorchenko’s return to his childhood town on the Dnieper river after a 30-year absence, in which he reunites with his parents and brother and boosts the village’s morale regarding the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam project which will permanently flood many of the residents’ rustic homes. Poem shares with Dovzhenko’s earlier Zvenigora (1928) a delightfully dizzying confluence of miniature folk themes. The roiling water of the Dnieper is at center stage, and the viewer comes to welcome its diluvian therapy as horrific memories from the war are kept at bay. Through international festivals Poem of an Inland Sea reached the eyes of the Cahiers du Cinéma crew, of whom Jean-Luc Godard and Jacques Rivette both included it in their top ten lists for the year of 1961.
Tickets are $15 (Free for Museum members at the Film Lover and MoMI Kids Premium levels and above).
The Story of the Flaming Years (Повесть пламенных лет)
SATURDAY, AUGUST 26, 4:30 P.M.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 27, 4:30 P.M.
Dir. Yuliya Solntseva. 1961, 91 mins. 70mm print courtesy of Gosfilmofond. In Russian with English subtitles. With Boris Andreyev, Sergey Petrov, Antonina Bogdanova. Solntseva followed Poem of an Inland Sea with The Story of Flaming Years, a similarly pull-out-all-the-stops ode to the Ukrainian national spirit. The titular conflagrations of Ukraine’s years in World War II are complemented by the somber narration of Soviet director Sergei Bondarchuk. The film’s hero Ivan Orliuk is a quasi-immortal Ubermensch brimming with agrarian vigor, who at one point in the film brings himself back to life solely by willpower. Smoky, destroyed battlegrounds are transcended through symbolic interludes and pantheistic meditations on the country and its rivers. The detached and universal narrative mode strikingly prefigures that of Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line (1999). Solntseva was awarded the Best Director award at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival for her work on the film.
The Enchanted Desna (Зачарованная Десна)
SATURDAY, AUGUST 26, 7:00 P.M.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 27, 7:00 P.M.
Dir. Yuliya Solntseva. 1964, 81 mins. 70mm print courtesy of Gosfilmofond. In Russian with English subtitles. With Boris Andreyev, Evgeniy Bondarenko, Vladimir Goncharov, Evgeniy Samyolov, Zinaida Kirienko. Solntseva’s final installment of Dovzhenko’s posthumous trilogy stands out as the set’s most unabashedly odic and idyllic. Framed by Dovzhenko’s semi-fictionalized autobiographical reflection on a childhood near Ukraine’s Desna river, The Enchanted Desna abounds with montages of Alexander Nikolaevich picking sunflower petals, eating acrid bulbous blossoms, and shaking apple trees while his grandmother spends her energy cursing his rambunctious soul. The nostalgia vacillates between supine apple-eating grandfathers and handsome heroic fathers. It is the love of Alexander for his gardening mother, paralleled by the motherly presence of the Desna, that lends the film its sanguinity. Jean-Luc Godard proclaimed Desna the greatest film of 1965, whereas critic Jonathan Rosenbaum called it,
“one of the most ravishing spectacles ever made, an ecstatic riot of color and sound that uses 70mm and stereophonic recording with all the freedom and imagination of an inspired home movie.”
Museum of the Moving Image (movingimage.us) advances the understanding, enjoyment, and appreciation of the art, history, technique, and technology of film, television, and digital media. In its stunning facilities—acclaimed for both its accessibility and bold design—the Museum presents exhibitions; screenings of significant works; discussion programs featuring actors, directors, craftspeople, and business leaders; and education programs which serve more than 50,000 students each year. The Museum also houses a significant collection of moving-image artifacts.
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