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LARISA SHEPITKO

Russia

Born: Armtervosk, Eastern Ukraine, 1939.
Died: 1979.


Shepitko graduated from VGIK, where she had studied in the workshop of Alexander Dovzhenko (whom she always referred to as her mentor) and Mikhail Romm in 1963. Her diploma work was Znoi / Heat (1963), made for Kirgizfilm from "The Camel's Eye", a story by the Kirgiz writer Chingiz Aitmatov, about a clash of generations in which a middle-aged woman, director of a civil engineering school, yearns for her days as a pilot during World War II and struggles to understand her daughter's generation. Shepitko's next project was the short film Rodina elektrichestva / Homeland of Electricity (1967), from the story by Andrei Platonov about the coming of electricity to a Russian village after the Revolution. Frequently compared to the work of her master Dovzhenko, this film, like Andrei Smirnov's Angel, was shot as part of a portmanteau film, Nachalo nevedomogo veka / The Beginning of an Unknown Century, made to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Revolution. But the films were banned for twenty years, and Rodina elektrichestva surfaced only in 1987, long after Shepitko's death. In Ty i ya / You and I (1971), a brain surgeon suddenly experiences an identity crisis and goes to Siberia to sort out his life. Shepitko's greatest achievement is Voskhozhdenie / The Ascent (1976), taken from Vasil Bykau's story "Sotnikov" and set in German-occupied Belorussia in 1942. This story of the tragic fate of a group of partisans is replete with spiritual strength and religious symbolism. It won the Golden Bear at Berlin in 1977. Shepitko died in a car crash in 1979, after beginning work on a version of Valentin Rasputin's lament for a Siberian village, "Farewell to Matyora". The film was completed by her husband, Elem Klimov, as Proschchanie / Farewell (1983). He also directed a short film made in her memory, Larisa (1980).

Julian Graffy, Encyclopedia of European Cinema



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