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Soviet New Wave film-maker Khutsiev dies at 93

By AFP
media Soviet-era filmmaker Marlen Khutsiev, a leading representative of the Soviet New Wave, has died aged 93 AFP/File

Renowned Soviet-era film-maker Marlen Khutsiev, one of the country's most influential post-war directors, has died aged 93, the Russian Union of Cinematographers said on Tuesday.

A leading representative of the Soviet New Wave, "he lived a life full of drama and joy," spokeswoman Tatyana Nemchinskaya told AFP.

The director's career spanned more than six decades and he worked into his 90s.

President Vladimir Putin expressed condolences on the passing of the "distinguished" director, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Georgian-born Khutsiev was famous for cult films in the mid 1950s and 1960s that captured the mood in Soviet society during Nikita Khrushchev's Thaw.

His works included "Spring on Zarechnaya Street" (1956) and "I am Twenty", known in the West as "Ilyich's Gate" (1965).

"He created a revolution in the 1960s and became a symbol of our Thaw," prominent filmmaker Pavel Lungin told AFP.

Lungin said "Ilych's Gate", which portrayed the lives of ordinary Soviets and featured filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky in a cameo, was a "manifesto" of the era.

The movie incurred Khrushchev's wrath and was heavily censored. The original director's cut only premieried in 1988, during Mikhail Gorbachev's Perestroika.

Over his career, Khutsiev earned the admiration of Federico Fellini, Jean-Luc Godard and other film greats.

But at home "he walked a precarious line," said the New York Museum of Modern Art, which presented the first major North American retrospective of his work in 2016.

Russian film critic Andrei Plakhov compared Khutsiev to Michelangelo Antonioni, the celebrated Italian director.

Eldar Shengelaia, the Georgian Soviet-era film director and a friend of Khutsiev, said his works were world cinema classics.

"He left an indelible mark on everyone's life," the 86-year-old told AFP.

Khutsiev received numerous international awards and prizes at film festivals such as Venice and Berlin.

He was born on October 4, 1925 in Georgia's Tbilisi, then known as Tiflis, and studied at the Moscow-based Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography, Russia's best-known film school.

 
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