niffiwan (niffiwan) wrote,

Russian animation retrospective at Waterloo festival

There will be a number of classic and modern Russian animated features and shorts shown with English subtitles at the WFAC this weekend (located in Kitchener, Canada).

"Laughter and Grief by the White Sea" and "The Little Tiger on the Sunflower" will be shown at 2:30pm on Saturday and admission will be free. The other classic films will be shown at the same time on Sunday. The two modern features are on Friday at 7pm, and Saturday at 12:30pm. A ticket is $12 ($8 for students/children).

Film descriptions below.

Laughter and Grief by the White Sea (Смех и горе у Бела Моря)
59 mins. 1989

Leonid Nosyrev is one of the most beloved Russian directors of animation, yet he is little known outside of his own country. His films are heavily attuned to traditional Russian folk culture. They are difficult to translate but also offer a fascinatingly unique voice in cinema. Released to critical acclaim in the Soviet Union in 1989, Laughter and Grief by the White Sea was made over a period of 12 years, and is his only feature film. The film is based on the culture of the Pomors (Russians who live by the White Sea far north of Moscow), and adapts the beloved stories of two northern Russian writers and folklorists, Boris Shergin and Stepan Pisakhov. As a rainstorm beats outside, a couple of fishermen sit in a small and cozy wooden hut. The eldest man, to pass the time, recounts stories: hilarious tall tales about things such as the business trade in icebergs and -500 degree winters, yet look just beneath the surface and you will find reflected the true nature of Pomor life, with all of its joys and sorrows. Yevgeny Leonov, one Russia’s best-loved actors, voices the narrator.

The Little Tiger on the Sunflower (Тигрёнок на подсолнухе)
10 mins. 1981

When he was 5 years old, Valentin Postnikov drew a little tiger on a sunflower. Submitted by his father to an art exhibition sponsored by a Soviet children’s magazine, the drawing won first place and inspired the famous Russian children’s writer Yuriy Koval to write a story about it. A year after that, the story was adapted into a beautiful short animated film by director Leonid Nosyrev.

In the Siberian Far East, by the river Ussuri on the very border with China, where the Moon Bears live, where the noble Red Deer bugle, treads the Amba – the Ussurian Tiger. But life for a little tiger in the harsh Siberian winter is not easy. Left with no shelter in the midst of a great winter storm, the little tiger burrows down into the snow and falls asleep beside a forsaken sunflower seed…

The Lost Letter (Пропавшая грамота)
43 mins. 1945

Made during the darkest days of World War II, this is the Soviet Union’s first animated feature film. It follows the story of the same name by the world-famous Russian writer Nikolai Gogol, also using fragments from his stories May Night, or the Drowned Maiden and The Fair at Sorochintsy.

A Cossack living in the southern part of the former Russian Empire (what is now Ukraine) is tasked with delivering a letter to the Empress, and must journey to the imperial capital of St. Petersburg. Along the way he stops at a fair and makes friends with a tall and wild Dnieper Cossack. Only during the night does he find out that his new friend has demonic enemies. When a demon runs off with the letter that he is to deliver to the Empress, the Cossack must chase after him through a landscape that grows more and more hellish.

The Stolen Sun (Краденое солнце)
11 mins. 1944

An adaptation of a children’s poem by K. Chukovsky about a crocodile who eats the sun and plunges the world into darkness, this cartoon also reflects the blackness of the years when a terrible war claimed the lives of tens of millions of the Soviet Union’s inhabitants, and ends with a hopeful wish that the dark time will pass. It was co-directed by Ivan Ivanov-Vano, who was one of the founders of Soviet animation in the 1920s and remained one of its leading directors until his last film in 1984.

The Elephant and the Pug (Слон и Моська)
7 mins. 1941

Made just before the Germany attacked the Soviet Union, this film is an adaptation of a children’s poem by Ivan Krylov, shown via a Soviet imitation of Disney’s animation style. A traveling circus brings an elephant through a town, which gives a pug the perfect opportunity to show everyone how tough he is.

The Cat Who Walked By Herself (Кошка, которая гуляла сама по себе)
70 mins. 1988

A wise house cat tells a story about how humanity came to be. Long ago, helped by the Singing Magic, Man came to dominion over nature, domesticating wild animals who were once foes. And with each domestication, his own nature and the world around him were changed.

The Cat Who Walked by Herself is one of the most daring and accomplished examples of experimentation in feature animation. In production from 1981 to 1988, it is an adaptation of the story published by British writer Rudyard Kipling in 1902. In contrast to American Kipling adaptations such as Disney’s The Jungle Book, Garanina’s film stays true to the dark and primal tone of his writing. The film seamlessly blends together many different animation styles. It uses music composed by the avant-garde Russian-Tatar composer Sofia Gubaidulina and features singing by jazz vocalist Valentina Ponomaryova.

Alisa's Birthday (День рождения Алисы)
90 mins. 2009

Based on the novel Alisa, the Girl from Earth, part of a series of hugely popular children’s science fiction stories by Russian novelist Igor Vsevolodovich Mozheiko (writing under and best known by his nom de plume Kir Bulychev), Alisa’s Birthday is a trippy film filled with creative characters and incredible energy, sensitive to its serious side and playful with innocent wonder.

Alisa Selezneva, a girl living on planet Earth at the end of the 21st century, fails her history exam right before her birthday. Upset and disappointed, she has to spend her summer vacation taking the class again.

Everything changes when Gromozeka, an alien friend of Alisa’s father and an acclaimed space explorer, invites Alisa on an expedition to the far-away planet Koleida as a birthday present. The planet is lonely and deserted as a lethal plague had wiped out its entire population a hundred years ago. But, only Gromozeka knows that Alisa’s destiny is not only to find out what had happened, but to save Koleida and change the course of history.

Fedot the Hunter (Про Федота-стрельца, удалого молодца)
90 mins. 2009

Fedot, the Czar’s strelets (a royal hunter) is ordered to shoot some game for the Royal Dinner, which is to be attended by the English Ambassador, the suitor of the Czar’s daughter. Fedot cannot find any game but by chance stumbles upon a dove. As he takes aim, the Dove transforms into the beautiful maid Marusia who uses her magical power to save Fedot from death by filling the Czar’s table with sumptuous food. And Fedot marries Marusia.

When the Czar finds out about Fedot’s beautiful new bride, he plans to take her for himself by ordering Fedot to complete a series of labours under pain of death, each one more incredulous than the last. What follows is an exciting, comical and magical journey. Will the Czar steal Marusia from Fedot? Will the General escape the wrath of the Czar and the clutches of the local Baba Yaga?

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