29.01.2016 — 25.01.2016

18:00             22:00

“PHYSICISTS” vs “LYRICISTS”. FILMS OF FELIX SOBOLEV. MEETING WITH ANATOLIY BORSYUK

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The fourth meeting from the Seven Brief Meetings: the Cinematic Unconscious of the 60-s series will be held on January 29. It starts at 18:00. The session will focus on the phenomenon of docufiction, the legendary Kyivnaukfilm studio and the works of its leader Felix Sobolev.

 

The program of the event features films The Blown Up Dawn (1965) and Seven Steps Beyond the Horizon (1968), which will be presented by Anatoliy Borsyuk – a well-known journalist and documentary filmmaker, who worked at the Kyivnaukfilm studio for 15 years.

 

Along with guitar poetry, hiking and Hemingwaymania, the sixties were characterized by a subcultural “conflict” between “physicists” and “lyricists”. Humanitarian dissidents were put in an opposition to the engineering elite: construction engineers, cyberneticists and ideologists of scientific progress.

 

So, it is no coincidence that in the1960-s the Soviet society became increasingly interested in science, which resulted in rapid development of the Kiev Popular Science Film Studio (Kyivnaukfilm) – one of the main platforms for exciting topics of the scientific progress in the UkrSSR.

 

The phenomenon of Kyivnaukfilm is primarily associated with the name of film director Felix Sobolev, who, with screenwriting support from his studio colleagues Yuriy Alikov and Yevhen Zahdanskyi, made a number of high-profile films and for a while raised the status of the popular science movie to the level of fiction films. The studio of Felix Sobolev produced such prominent figures as Oleksandr Rodnyanskyi, Anatoliy Borsyuk, Roman Shyrman, Viktor Olender, Timur Zoloev and others.

 

At the time, the creative team of Kyivnaukfilm shared the idea that popular science films handled such subjects within the scientific and technological revolution that fiction films were not yet considering. In this sense, popular science films were more current than fiction films.

 

Sobolev himself liked to say that “popular science cinematography has to develop into fiction”. His first associate, playwright Yevhen Zahdanskyi, tried to integrate into the plot of a popular science film not only the so-called “quantum thinking”, but also the aesthetic achievements of Dovzhenko and Hitchcock.

 

We will watch two 1960-s productions of Kyivnaukfilm, The Blown Up Dawn (1965) and Seven Steps Beyond the Horizon (1968), both of which became cult Ukrainian documentary movies, together with one of the studio’s film directors, Anatoliy Borsyuk.

 

Anatoliy Borsyuk worked as film director at Kyivnaukfilm Studio (1979-1984) and at Chetver Studio (1989-1993). In the 1990-s he became one of the most famous faces of 1+1 TV Channel. Author of a dozen films, including Scratch on the Ice (1982), Vavilov Star (1984), Together with Makarenko (1987), Okshulag (1991), Nika, who ... (1995) and others. Author of the book of interviews with prominent cultural figures 35 and One Interesting (Dukh i Litera, 2010).

 

THE BLOWN UP DAWN

1965, UkrSSR, Kiev Popular Science Film Studio, 17 min.

Directed by Felix Sobolev

Written by Yevhen Zahdanskyi

Director of Photography Leonid Pryadkin

Music by Boris Buyevskyi

Choreography by Natalya Skorulska


A poetic essay about a planet that disappeared in the Solar system. Scientists do not know why the planet ceased to exist, but we can assume that it self-destructed.


Solving the mystery of the planet that disappeared, Felix Sobolev, naturally, alludes to the destructive activities of man on Earth, the dark side of the  scientific progress manifesting itself through mass destruction technologies used during the Second World War.


In this short film, one of his early works, Sobolev already fully demonstartes his talent as experimental director, which with time will make his name one of the highlights of Kyivnaukfilm studio.

 

Sobolev turns a dogmatic moral parable about the dangers of rationalism into a brilliant humanistic film-contemplation using anti-fascist drawings, abstract animation and dance performances in the style of Maya Deren’s choreographic films.

 

Twenty years after Hiroshima and twenty years before Chernobyl, Sobolev, unafraid of pathos, as if cautions the world against self-destruction, starting his work with an epigraph from Julius Fucik “Mankind, I loved you. Be vigilant!” and ending with the sacramental “Mankind, arise!”

 

SEVEN STEPS BEYOND THE HORIZON

1968, UkrSSR, Kiev Popular Science Film Studio, 72 min.

Directed by Felix Sobolev

Written by Yevhen Zahdanskyi

Director of Photography Leonid Pryadkin

Starring Ihor Shelushkov, Bronislav Drozhzhin, Mikhail Tal, Aleksandr Smogul, Vladimir Raikov


Seven documentary stories about extraordinary capabilities of the human brain. This film by Sobolev and Zahdanskyi features genuine sensations of the world of the “physicists” of the sixties: a human calculator from Gorky Shelushkov, champion grand master Tal, phenomenal Chikvashvily, improvisation singer-songwriter Smogul, muscular telepath Drozhzhin, doctor hypnologist Raikov.

 

Yet it was not the geniuses and prodigies but the phenomenon of extraordinary capabilities of the human body itself that interested Felix Sobolev above all. According to one of the director’s students, Oleksandr Rodnyanskyi, the protagonists of Sobolev’s films were ideas.

In his faith in man, humanist and rationalist Sobolev was looking for a precise point where a person can surpass him- or herself. In the Soviet system of declarative equality this made Sobolev one of the few who raised the subject of superperson in cinematography – seen not as a Stakhanovite or a community leader, but as an owner of a superbrain.

 

However, despite the implicit ideological provocation, Seven Steps Over the Horizon was more of an experimental search for answers to nearly childish questions. How many fiqures can human memory hold at the same time? Can one win a simultaneous chess game with ten people? Can one drive a car with a black bag over their head?

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