The Curtain is Up

By Jo Phillips

There are very few things more wondrous than watching a film that comes from a completely different part of the world from where you are based. Being open to the expansive world learning about other lives other cultures broadens one’s horizons but brings entertainment at the same time. For many years the lands of the former Soviet Union were still relatively unknown, but now with thanks to the Kino Klassika Foundation, the curtain is up..

“There are moments in life when all the habitual ideas, rules and relationships are involuntarily re-evaluated. Moments of highest tension and the greatest attention…” – Sergei Parajanov

Kino Klassika Foundation is a film heritage charity and has been bringing the rarely screened and magical cinema tradition of Russia and the Caucasus to UK audiences since 2016.  In a mere four years, the foundation has expanded rapidly. 

When cinemas went dark in March, and in the face of the enormous structural pressures placed on the arts, the foundation started to program classic cinema from the region online and completely free of charge!   Every Tuesday, for the last six months, Kino Klassika has been delighting viewers with a freshly picked film. And these films are always free to view.

This November, there are enchanting and rare titles lined up to be programmed. November 3rd will feature a rarely screened and highly awarded gem from Kyrgyzstan. Aktan Abydkalykov’s Beshkempir (1998), which quite literally means five grandmothers, is a moving coming of age story. Drawing deeply from the director’s experience, it paints an exquisite portrait of childhood in a provincial town and the painful, revelatory experience of discovering his own adoption. Starring the director’s son, Mirlan Abdykalykov, it is a deeply personal tale that touched hearts internationally.

On the 10th, don’t miss Running to the Sky (2019),  a recent release from Mirlan Abdykalykov. Visually breathtaking and utterly transfixing, set in rural Kyrgyzstan, a young boy, Jekshen, discovers a talent for running.The director, having acted in his father’s films from childhood, has a unique talent for characterisation. A depth-ful lens is placed on Jekshen as he longs to escape the trappings of his village and insurmountable responsibilities. 

The following week, Tuesday 17th, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, a classic from the undisputed master of poetic cinema, Sergei Parajanov. The world-renowned director is best known for The Colour of Pomegranates, a work that regularly features in best all-time film lists. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors is a mystical work of comparable genius, focusing on the traditions of the Ukrainian hustsul people; it is a unique and gripping representation of heartbreak, tradition and despair.

As the weather gets darker, and we face a strange festive season, you can be sure that Tuesdays will feature a cinema gift given freely and received gladly.

 In the last few months, the films Kino Klassika has screened have been an eclectic mix of recent Cannes winners, silent cinema, cultural sensations such as iconic television series Seventeen Moments of Spring (Russia’s answer to James Bond) and the world’s greatest animations such as Yuri Norstein’s incomparable Hedgehog in the Fog.  In December, as is their tradition, they will host an annual Christmas screening. This year, they will screen the cult classic Kin Dza-Dza!, often called the Russian Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Pre-pandemic, Kino Klassika organised screenings at the most significant arts venues across the nation: highlights include hosting the London Symphony Orchestra alongside Eisenstein’s October at the Barbican; participation in the BFI’s musical season in multiple locations across the UK and several highly curated seasons

“October”  “In 2017 Kino Klassika presented Sergei Eisenstein’s 1928 silent film masterpiece, October, to mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution.  The film recreates the events of October 1917 with live accompaniment by the London Symphony Orchestra. The screening takes place 100 years to the date after the storming of St Petersburg’s Winter Palace in Russia.”

In January Kino Klassika Foundation, in association with Cine Lumiere and regional cinemas across the country, will host Blin! A season of the best belly laughter comedies from the region, guaranteed to bring some much-needed levity and laughter in the New Year. This precedes its launch of a dedicated VOD platform on January 13th to spotlight the best and most exciting film voices from Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Upcoming screening include

:November 3 – Beshkempir (1998) Dir. Aktan Abdykalykov


November 10 – Running to the Sky (2019) Dir. Mirlan Abdykalykov


November 17 – Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1965) Dir. Sergei Parajanov


November 24 – Once Upon a Time There Was a Singing Blackbird Dir. Otar Iosseliani


December 1 – Master of Animation: Aleksandr Petrov. Double Bill of The Dream of a Ridiculous Man (1992), and The Cow (1989)

December 8 – Kin Dza Dza (1985) Dir. Georgiy Daneliya

With integrity and total respect toward the works of art and the cultures they hail from, Kino Klassika Foundation has become a unique and exciting voice in the world of exhibition. Kino Klassika has become the go-to destination for film buffs and cinephiles from all over the United Kingdom.

Find out more Here at the Kino Flassika Foundation

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