Saturday, June 30, 2007

"From the Tsars to the Stars" Russian Sci-Fi series at NWFF : July 28 - Aug 12

Link to Northwest Film Forum 'From the Tsars to the Stars' Site

A rare opportunity to see many of these in their unedited, uncersored, un'coldwar' forms - and on the big(ger) screen! Series includes a personal highlight; Andrei Tarkovsky's excellent visually poetic adaptation of Stanislav Lem's 'Solaris'. Along with other more camp, absurd and surrealist offerings from the genre.

From the Northwest Film Forum:

"Wind demons and crystal palaces… Shimmering aquatic gill-men and limitless vistas of outer space… For over eight decades Russian cinema has had an inspired tradition of filmmaking that encompasses science fiction, folkloric fantasy and horror, and produces stunningly beautiful and entertaining movies -- only now being seen by American audiences in their original form.

Beginning with the pioneering animation of Ladislas Starewitch, through the silent classic AELITA: QUEEN OF MARS, and on to the astonishing visions of master filmmakers Alexander Ptushko and Pavel Klushantsev in the 1940s and 1950s, Russian genre cinema was amazingly colorful, technologically advanced and thematically ambitious. During the Cold War, sci-fi elements dominated, keeping with the Sputnik era space race between Russia and the U.S. More than a decade before 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, visual-effects pioneers Pavel Klushantsev and Mikhail Koryukov created breathtaking visions of man's voyage to outer space in such films as THE HEAVENS CALL and PLANET OF STORMS, drawing upon the latest technical advances to present a highly detailed and optimistic view of space exploration. And in 1962, Kazansky and Chebotarev’s charming THE AMPHIBIAN MAN, a cross between Jules Verne and Hans Christian Andersen, became one of the biggest hits in Soviet film history. Ironically, many of these astonishing works did end up on Western screens -- mauled almost beyond recognition. At the height of the Cold War, enterprising U.S. producers like Roger Corman purchased Soviet sci-fi films at bargain prices and gave them to up-and-coming American directors, including Francis Ford Coppola, Curtis Harrington and Peter Bogdanovich, to re-fashion using newly shot footage. With added scenes of space vampires and tentacled monsters, the Russian films were released in American drive-ins with titles like VOYAGE TO THE PLANET OF PREHISTORIC WOMEN and QUEEN OF BLOOD. Our series features prints of the legendary Russian originals (with English subtitles), seen for the very first time in the U.S.

This series examines the history of Russian Fantastika with rare screenings of many of the aforementioned films, as well as Aleksandr Rou’s classic adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s Christmas story, EVENINGS ON A FARM NEAR DIKANKA; a newly restored print of Richard Viktorov’s TO THE STARS BY HARD WAYS; and Alexei Fedorchenko’s pristine FIRST ON THE MOON. It’ll be revelatory, it’ll be mind-expanding, and it’ll be fun."