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Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors
(Tini zabutykh predkiv)

Screening on Film
Directed by Sergei Parajanov.
With Ivan Mikolaitchouk, Larisa Kadochnikova, Tatyana Bestayeva.
Soviet Union, 1965, 35mm, color, 97 min.
Ukrainian with English subtitles.

Parajanov, the Georgian-born, ethnically Armenian filmmaker who shot film in the Ukraine, created extremely decorative, suspiciously queer, robustly mythic films so out of sync with Soviet realism that he found himself the target of almost-constant state persecution, resulting in frequent imprisonments and long periods of enforced inactivity. Nonetheless, he got enough pictures out against all this resistance to ensure a place for himself among the all-time great visionaries of cinema. This legendary tale of Carpathian romance and violent family feuds, shot using some strange, pulsing Soviet color stock with extremely unstable emulsions, feels like a story told in a passing parade of peeling gilt icons, but it’s so musically driven one also feels the whole thing to be an ancient song, or epic poem, intoned across countless Ukrainian Hutsul generations clinging to their fierce mountain lives. So much mad, unsanctioned energy in this film—enough to knit Leonid Brezhnev’s eyebrows into a tapestry!

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