Armenian Film Festival ‘Under Soviet Skies’

From 25 May 2021 until 1 June 2021, Klassiki in partnership with the Armenian Institute will host Under Soviet Skies.

Under Soviet Skies is an online film festival spotlighting recently restored and newly subtitled classics of Armenian cinema. The week-long programme celebrates the theme of neighbourliness with films from Russia, Georgia and Ukraine.

The season will launch with a premiere of the 1966 classic, Hello, It’s Me! and is complimented with further screenings, live panel discussions, interviews and viewing parties.

“One of our key goals at the Armenian Institute is to explore the connections Armenians have had with their historic and present neighbours. This festival is the perfect opportunity to celebrate our shared culture from the Soviet era, exploring intertwined and interweaved histories, differences, diversity, and interconnections.” says director of the Armenian Institute and festival curator Tatevik Ayvazyan.

“Growing up in the Soviet Union myself and being influenced, affected and touched by the Soviet cinema, I am incredibly excited to be able to share this exquisite bouquet of films with our audiences now, representing a wide range of filmmaking, starting from Henrik Malyan’s intimate, lyrical A Piece of Sky to Mikhalkov’s epic Oscar-winning Burnt by the Sun.”

Hello, It's Me! (1966)

PROGRAMME

Tuesday 25 May 2021, 7pm BST

Hello! It’s Me Premiere, preceded by a live Q&A with Vigen Galstyan, head of the National Cinema Centre of Armenia’s Heritage Department, Tatevik Ayvazyan, director of the Armenian Institute of London and Justine Waddell, founder of Klassiki.

Thursday 27 May 2021, 7pm BST

A live panel discussion exploring the theme of Soviet identity and film, how identities have been shaped and reshaped in the Soviet and post-Soviet space. With Emeritus Professor of Film Studies at Birkbeck College, Professor Ian Christie, prize-winning Armenian author Nourtiza Matossian, researcher and curator Dr Maria Korolkova and Gareth Evans, film curator for the influential Whitechapel Gallery.

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1965)

THE FILMS

Screening for free for the entirety of the week-long programme.

Burnt By the Sun (1994), Nikita Mikhalkov

This Academy Award-winning film is the story of a family and a people, suffused with Nikita Mikhalkov’s customary sense of irony and political symbolism. Set in 1936, as Stalin’s purges gather momentum, Mikhalkov plays a retired officer who has retreated to the country with his wife Maroussia (Ingeborga Dapkunaite) and 6-year-old daughter Nada (Nadezhda Mikhalkova —the director’s own daughter). When a former lover of Maroussia arrives, the family’s idyll is pushed to shattering.

Blue Mountains (1983), Eldar Shengelia

This deft satire of Soviet bureaucracy follows Soso, an aspiring novelist looking to publish his latest manuscript. It soon becomes apparent that the publishing house is staffed by a host of oblivious employees interested in everything but his novel. As his frustration mounts, the narrative sails seamlessly towards its devastating final image, a darkly comic indictment of a system crumbling before a people’s very eyes.

Hello, It’s Me! (1966), Frunze Dovlatyan

Based on the real-life story of Soviet physicist, Artem Alikhanian, this film presents a beautiful and tragic reflection on war as the main character deals with his own ghosts and tries to find a way to move on. The film moves back and forth between the 40s and 60s giving a unique perspective on World War 2 (or the Great Patriotic War as it was called in the Soviet Union) and the havoc it wreaked on the lives of young scientists. As life stops, the laws of physics continue.

Burnt by the Sun (1994)

A Piece of Sky (1980), Henrik Malyan

Torik is a shy orphaned boy adopted by his aunt and uncle. The film follows Torik as he struggles through adolescence, learns his uncle’s craft and finds a suitable girl to marry. Ultimately, Torik falls in love with a woman the community does not approve of and he has to stand up to the bigotry to fight for his happiness. One of Henrik Malyan’s classic comedies with a deep affection for Armenian history, based on a much-loved short story by Vahan Totovents.

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1965), Sergei Parajanov

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors is a film that shows rather than tells. Unforgettable for its subject matter and aesthetics, the dialogue is minimal and the visual style bursts with what would become Parajanov’s signature use of colour, dramatic camera work and rich symbolism. Featuring a detailed portrayal of Ukrainian Hutsul culture, Hutsul traditions, music, costumes, and dialect, it launched Parajanov’s filmmaking career and is now regarded as one of the great works of the 20th century.