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Farewell to Kira Muratova, Ukraine's Late, Great Filmmaker

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Last week, the terrible news came that Odessa has lost its greatest living legend. The filmmaker Kira Muratova died at the age of 83 after a prolonged illness. Muratova was widely considered to be the greatest living filmmaker in Ukraine, the last titan of the classical era of Soviet film and likely the most idiosyncratic filmmaker of her generation. Starting in the early 1960s, Muratova made a series of films which utilized postmodern and surrealist techniques, scandalizing the officialdom and eschewing the prevailing doctrine of socialist realism. Muratova’s work is notable for being ardently loved by some and completely incomprehensible to others, often relying on building a picture of the society out of mosaic-like pieces.

 Muratova was born in 1934, in the Romanian town of Soroka, which is now located in Moldova. She graduated from the renowned Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography in Moscow (universally known as the VGIK), before returning to Odessa to work at the Odessa film studio and make a string of improbable films during which outlasted the Soviet Union by a quarter century that followed Ukrainian independence. Muratova’s work could not be categorized in any one particular genre; she was a genre on to herself. Her film language is poetic, absurd, and recognizable from the first frame. As with any auteur’s cinema, the audience deals with her attitude from the first moment of the film onward. The world that Muratova creates across her cinematic universe is ridiculous and senseless, a delirious dream which she populated with odd characters and amateur actors from Odessa. The filmography is in fact a miniature anthropology of the absurd character of the city. Muratova’s renowned fetishism for odd character actors was referenced by this years Cannes prize-winner, Sergei Loznitsa, who cast some of them in his last film “Donbass”, where the absurdity of fake news reaches an apogee.

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