On Wednesday the celebrated film director Kira Muratova died at the age of 83 in Odessa, Ukraine.
Born in Soroco, Romania (now Moldova), she spent part of her childhood in Bucharest. She graduated from the prestigious Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography in Moscow in 1959 and began to work in Odessa, where she directed several films, including “Brief Encounters” starring Vladimir Vysotsky, and “The Long Farewell.” Both films were “put on the shelf” for decades for their unacceptable depiction of Soviet life and relationships.
In 1978 she moved to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) and directed one film at the Lenfilm Studio, “Getting to Know the Big Wide World,” and then returned to Odessa, where she continued to work until her last film, “Eternal Redemption,” in 2012.
Muratova only became known to the broader public in the late 1980s, when her earlier films were released and she was able to work without censorship. Her later films, particularly “Asthenic Syndrome” (1989), are considered masterpieces. “Asthenic Syndrome” consists of two narratives: one story in black and white about a doctor grieving over the loss of her husband. This story turns out to be a film being shown in a movie theater in the second narrative, which is filmed in color, about a schoolteacher with asthenic syndrome who constantly falls asleep. The doctor is furious and aggressive in her grief and pain; the schoolteacher is passive and falls asleep whenever he is uncomfortable. The brilliant but unflinching view of human and society’s cruelty and the neo-avant-garde style of narration garnered the Special Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival.
Muratova won dozens of awards for her films in Russia, Ukraine and abroad.