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Monday, 25 May 2015 00:00

50th Karlovy Vary IFF: A retrospective of an iconic female-director
The life of the legendary director of Ukrainian-Iranian origin Larisa Shepitko (1938 – 1979), whose student film Heat (1963) won the prize for best debut at the 14th Karlovy Vary IFF, ended all too soon in an automobile accident. The five films that Shepitko managed to make in her lifetime nonetheless made her an icon among female directors. 

The fascinating filmmaker who, together with her no-less-esteemed husband Elem Klimov, was a part of Moscow’s cultural elite, reasserted her talent in her second film, Wings, a sombre portrait of a woman and former wartime pilot living out an “ordinary” life as a school headmistress. Then she contributed to the film Beginning of an Unknown Era, commissioned to mark the 50-year anniversary of the October Revolution. In spite of the Party’s expectations, however, the propaganda work was left uncompleted and remained in the vault for the next twenty years.


She tried out working with colour film on the unconventional psychological drama You and Me(1971), but five years later went back to the characteristically bewitching black-and-white images that she mastered in her studies at VGIK under Alexandr Dovženko in her sublime The Ascent. One of the most often cited cinematic reflections on the Second World War, The Ascent won four prizes at the Berlinale, including the Golden Bear. Her next film was to be an adaptation of Valentin Rasputin’s novel Farewell to Matyora - it was finished by Elem Klimov, who also created a 30-minute commemorative film about his wife called Larisa.


From the website of the Karlovy Vary IFF