FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date; April 12, 2001

Tel: 323.461.2020, ext. 115

e-mail: amcin@msn.com

 

THE AMERICAN CINEMATHEQUE PRESENTS THE FILMS OF "THE RUSSIAN SPIELBERG" FANTASY MASTER ALEXANDER PTUSHKO

 

Presented in collaboration with Seagull Films, with the assistance of Francis Ford Coppola,

Robert Skotak, Nikita Mikhalkov and TTT Studio. This series was made possible through the generosity of

The Trust for Mutual Understanding and George Gund.

 

May 3 - May 6, 2001

HOLLYWOOD – The American Cinematheque presents Fantastika! The Films of Russian Fantasy Master Alexander Ptushko (May 3-6, 2001), an extremely rare opportunity to see brand new 35mm prints of the original Russian language versions of the work of "the Russian Spielberg." Soviet director and visual effects pioneer Alexander Ptushko (1900-1973) created his own epic fantasy world filled with wind demons, sorcerers and enchanted stone gardens. In 1935, Ptushko directed one of the world’s first full-length animated features, THE NEW GULLIVER -- two years before Disney’s SNOW WHITE! -- and went on to make the haunting masterpiece THE STONE FLOWER in 1946 (Russia’s first color feature), followed by ILYA MUROMETS (1956), SAMPO (1959), VIY (1967) and other astonishing fantasies. The special effects Ptushko pioneered in these films pre-date many of the techniques familiar to U.S. audiences from Ray Harryhausen’s JASON & THE ARGONAUTS, Terry Gilliam’s THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN and others. Sadly, Ptushko’s films have only been available in the U.S. in long-out-of print versions that were poorly dubbed, drastically re-cut, and often re-photographed from the original CinemaScope format to distorted pan-and-scan versions. (In fact, early in his career, director Francis Ford Coppola was assigned to re-edit Ptushko’s SADKO for American release as THE MAGIC VOYAGE OF SINBAD.) This series is the result of over seven years’ work between the American Cinematheque and Seagull Films in New York. All films will be presented in the original Russian-language versions (with English subtitles). All films are directed by Alexander Ptushko unless otherwise noted. All screenings are at the newly renovated Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre at the historic Egyptian (6712 Hollywood Boulevard between Highland and Las Palmas) in Hollywood.

 

American Cinematheque, 1800 North Highland Avenue, Suite 717, Hollywood, CA 90028

(tel) 323.466-FILM u (fax) 323.461.9737 On the web: http://www.egyptiantheatre.com

 

 

 

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Thursday, May 3, 2001

The Thursday, May 3rd program is a DoubleFeature that begins at 7:30 PM with a screening of the restored 35 mm. print of the original Russian language version of THE STONE FLOWER (KAMENNY TSVETOK) (1946, 83 min.). Set in the Ural Mountains, this a dreamlike, visually ravishing fable follows a melancholy young stone-carver (Vladimir Druzhnikov) whose talents attract the attention of the mystical Queen of Copper Hill (Tamara Makarova). She seduces him into visiting her dazzling underground world, where the carver begins sculpting an enormous flower out of shimmering stone. Based on Pavel Bazhov’s folktale The Malachite Box, THE STONE FLOWER was Ptushko’s first great artistic and popular success, combining a hypnotic, almost religious intensity with images of stunning, supernatural splendor – Paradjanov’s COLOR OF POMEGRANETES meets Bava’s HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD. Russia’s first full-color feature, and winner of the International Prize for Color at the Cannes Film Festival. Next on the same bill is a screening of a restored 35 mm. print of the original Russian language version of THE NEW GULLIVER (NOVY GULLIVER) (1935, 68 min.), one of the first full-length animated films made anywhere in the world. It is the story of Petya (Vladimir Konstantinov), a young Soviet pioneer who falls asleep reading Swift’s "Gulliver’s Travels" – and awakens in a surreal Lilliput, updated to include jazz bands, mechanized tractors and (in the best revolutionary spirit) a miniaturized workers’ proletariat, who rise up with the help of the giant Petya! Ptushko’s first feature as director is an astounding hybrid of stop-motion animation (over 3,000 separate figures were used) and live-action footage.

Friday, May 4, 2001

The Friday, May 4th program is a Double-Feature that begins at 7:30 PM with a screening of the restored 35 mm. print of the original Russian language version of *ILYA MUROMETS (1956, 94 min.). Released in a dubbed, shortened version in the U.S. as THE SWORD & THE DRAGON, the complete ILYA MUROMETS is one of Ptushko’s finest achievements. This colorful, sweeping epic of 13th century Russia, features a barrel-chested hero named Ilya (Boris Andreyev) who takes on marauding Mongols, furry wind demons, three-headed dragons and a corrupt aristocracy to save his beloved homeland. The first CinemaScope and Stereo film produced in Russia, ILYA MUROMETS combines brilliant, JASON & THE ARGONAUTS-style visual effects with a gorgeous, pastoral vision of the Russian countryside – screeching black ravens and lone riders silhouetted against burning skies. Next on the same bill is the first-ever U.S. screening of the full-length, CinemaScope original version of *SAMPO (1959, 99 min.). Based on the Finnish national epic "Kalevala", a folk narrative handed down over centuries, SAMPO is the story of the sinister witch Louhi (Anna Orochko), who kidnaps a beautiful maiden (Nina Anderson) in an attempt to force her father to hand over the "Sampo" – a magical mill that will produce endless salt, grain and gold. When the hero Lemminkäinen (Urho Somersalmi) attempts to stop her, Louhi literally steals the sun, plunging the world into darkness. SAMPO was released here in a severely edited, pan-and-scan version as THE DAY THE EARTH FROZE. This screening will feature a restored 35 mm. print of the original Russian language version.

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Saturday, May 5 , 2001

The Saturday, May 5th program begins at 5:00 PM with the U.S. Premiere of VIY (1967, 78 min.) directed by Konstantin Yershov & Giorgi Kropachyov. Alexander Ptushko was the supervising director. On the want-list of most horror-fantasy fans for years, VIY finally makes its U.S. appearance here! Based on a short story by Nikolai Gogol, is the story of a bumbling, novice priest (Leonid Kuravlyov) who angers a demonic old hag – to take her revenge, the witch disguises herself as the beautiful corpse of a young woman, whose last wish is to have the priest pray over her for three nights. Once trapped inside the village church, the priest encounters an astoundingly-grotesque parade of gargoyles and demons, literally erupting from the walls – and the gorgeous witch herself, whirling around the church in a flying coffin! Plus, a clip from SADKO (1953, approx. 10 min.), featuring Ptushko’s most singularly-stunning creation: a shimmering half-bird, half-woman, trapped inside a maharajah’s gem-like palace.

Following at 7:15 PM is RUSLAN I LUDMILA (1972, 159 min.). A mad, enchanted combination of THE WIZARD OF OZ, DIE NIBELUNGENLIED and THE 5,000 FINGERS OF DR. T, RUSLAN is quite possibly Ptushko's greatest masterpiece, an epic 2-part fantasy packed with surreal, grotesque characters – a sorcerer midget with a 50-foot beard, a demonic, hunchbacked witch – and jaw-droppingly dazzling set-pieces – the midget’s shimmering crystal palace, tormented figures chained inside a cavern, a decapitated giant’s head rising up like a statue on Easter Island. Based on a poem by Pushkin, Ptushko’s final film as director follows the epic adventures of Ruslan (Valery Kosints) as he struggles to recover the feisty, resourceful bride (Natalia Petrova) kidnapped on their wedding night by the impish sorcerer Tchernomor.

 

Sunday, May 6, 2001

The Sunday, May 6th program begins at 5:00 PM with an Encore Double-Feature of THE STONE FLOWER (KAMENNY TSVETOK) (1946, 83 min.) and *ILYA MUROMETS (1956, 94 min.).[Please see May 3rd & 4th for description].

 

All films will be presented in the Russian language with English subtitles. Double features include both films for one admission price of $8 general. There is a 5-minute intermission between films. Running times are provided to figure out the approximate start time of the second film in the double bill.

 

k BLACK & WHITE PHOTOS ARE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST. DIGITAL COLOR IMAGES CAN BE E-MAILED. PLEASE NOTE THAT THESE FILES ARE OVER ONE MEGABYTE SO BE SURE YOU CAN HANDLE LARGE FILES BY E-MAIL BEFORE REQUESTING THE ARTWORK. SEND A REQUEST VIA E-MAIL TO AMCIN@MSN.COM k

 

WE DO NOT HAVE GUARANTEED PRESS PASSES TO PUBLIC SCREENINGS. IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT YOU TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE ADVANCE PRESS SCREENINGS.

A complete calendar/flyer listing of these films has been mailed to you.

 

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SOME OF THE FILMS ARE AVAILABLE ON VIDEOTAPE AT JERRY’S OR IN OUR OFFICE. SEE LIST BELOW FOR COMPLETE DETAILS. THEATRICAL PRESS SCREENINGS OF THE STONE FLOWER WILL BE SET UP. PLEASE CALL FOR DETAILS. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CALL MARGOT GERBER 323.461.2020, ext. 115. THANK YOU.

 

Jerry’s Video is located at 1904 Hillhurst (at the corner of Franklin) - 323-666-7471.

 

REQUESTS FOR PRESS TICKETS TO PUBLIC SCREENINGS MUST BE IN WRITING. FAX TO 323.461.9737 ATTN: MARGOT GERBER, 24 HOURS PRIOR TO SHOW TIME. FRIDAY AT NOON IS THE ABSOLUTE DEADLINE FOR WEEKEND OR HOLIDAY SCREENINGS. JOURNALISTS WISHING TO AUDIO OR VIDEOTAPE DISCUSSIONS MUST ALSO SEND A WRITTEN REQUEST. YOUR NAME WILL THEN BE ON A LIST AT THE BOX OFFICE.

 

If you would like to receive press screening notices and press releases by e-mail, please e-mail amcin@msn.com and you will be added to our e-mail list.

 

THE PROGRAM IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE.

 

 

Please note that our ticket prices increased as of Feb. 15, 2001. New Prices: $8 General; $6 Cinematheque Members. $7 Seniors (65+ years) and students with

valid ID card. Must be shown at box office at time of purchase.

 

Coming Soon: Jennifer Jason Leigh Tribute (June 5-9); Mods & Rockers 2001 (late June-early July); Nanni Morretti Tribute (late May-early June)

 

Our permanent daily attraction film FOREVER HOLLYWOOD is now open. For press passes to see it for review purposes, please call Margot Gerber at 323.461.2020, ext. 115.

 

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