Larisa Jefimovna Šepitko
06.01.1939 - 02.07.1979
Shepitko was a Russian director and screenwriter, originally from Ukraine. She studied directing at the Moscow school for film VGIK in Professor Aleksandra Petrovich Dovzhenko’s class. She directed short feature films The Blind Cook (Slepoy kukhar, 1956) and Living Water (Zhivaya voda, 1957), and then worked with Dovzhenko’s widow Julija Ipolitovna Solntseva on his unfinished film Poem of the Sea (1958). She graduated with the feature film Heat (Znoj, 1963), which was shot in extremely high temperatures in Kirgizstan, during which Shepitko got sick and was carried to the set on a stretcher. The film won an award in Karlovy Vary. Her next film Wings (Krilja, 1966), caused controversy in the USSR because it showed war heroes lost after the war and the generational conflict. However, this film helped her career and she became known as one of the most important modernists of the Soviet film in the 1960’s. She confirmed her status with her segment of the film Beginning of an Unknown Era (Rodina električestva, 1967), based on the story by the Russian writer Andreja Platonov, which was banned from screening during Brezhnev’s rule due to alleged negative portrayal of the Bolsheviks. Her next film, You And Me (Ty i ja, 1971), the only one in color, is characterized by an elliptic structure and portrayal of an urban estrangement without a true dramatic focus. It displayed a strong influence of the esthetics typical of the great director Michelangelo Antonioni. After giving birth to her son she seriously injured her spine and was in grave danger. Nevertheless, she directed another film, the master-piece Ascent (Voshoždenie, 1977), based on the short story „Sotnikov“ by the Belarus writer Vasil Bikov, and permanently confirmed her reputation. The film was shot in extremely cold temperatures and it won the Golden Bear in Berlin. This allegory about two Russian partisans who were captured in the winter of 1942 is considered as one of the best Russian war films of all time. During the preparations for shooting of her next film based on the short story by Valentin Grigorjevich Rasputin, Shepitko, aged 41, and four other members of the film crew, died in a car accident. Her last fill, entitled Farewell (Proščanie, 1983) was finished by her husband Elem Klimov. He also devoted his short documentary film Larisa (1980) to her.