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Elem Germanovich Klimov

head of the Film-makers Union , film director

Elem Klimov, USSR Film director, head of the Film-makers Union.


Klimov, Elem was born on July 9, 1933.


Came to the film industry from science. Originally graduated as an aviation engineer. Later graduated from the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography.

Acquired a reputation for his satirical short films when he was a film student — Careful Banality, Look, The Sky, etc. His children’s film (for adults) Welcome, 1964, became a classic. His second full-length film, Adventures of a Dentist, 1967, confirmed his reputation as a master of satire.

Neither film was widely distributed because they annoyed the authorities with their criticism of Soviet bureaucracy (both are transparent allegories on the way of life in the USSR). His next film, Agoniia (Agony), about Rasputin and the last years before the revolution, took him nearly 20 years to make. The film was ready in 1975 but was released only in 1985, having been distributed abroad the previous year to test reaction.

It made a sensation both abroad and in the USSR with its subject-matter, which had previously been regarded as taboo, and with its sympathetic treatment of Nicholas II. Agoniia was a major box office hit in 1985-1987. His film Farewell to Matera is based on V. Rasputin’s story, and was started by his wife Larissa Shepitko, who died (together with her 7 crew) in a car crash during the shooting. Supplemented the film with short sequel, Larissa, in her memory.

He was unanimously elected General Secretary of the Film-makers Union (practically the head of the Soviet film industry) and released all the films which had been shelved in the previous 30 years (literally hundreds, including all his own films). This had been made possible thanks to the historic Congress of the Film-makers’ Union in May 1986, which had shifted the decision-making role from the bureaucrats and censors to the film-makers.