On Thursday 8 March, 2018, there will be a screening of two films by Boris Frumin, one of the leading directors of the Leningrad ‘New Wave’ cinema during the 1970s. Frumin has lived since 1978 in the USA, where he has continued directing, scripting, and producing films, and worked until 2017 as Professor of Film Studies at NYU.
The programme will comprise Errors of Youth (filmed in 1977-78, but released only in 1987, after nearly a decade ‘on the shelf’), to be shown at 2.30 pm, and ¡Viva Castro! (1993), with a start time of 4.00 pm. Both films will have English subtitles. For a longer biographical note and more information about the films, please see below. All are welcome and the event is free. The film showings will be followed at 5.30 pm by a discussion with Boris Frumin, who is visiting Oxford on 7-10 March 2018, and a reception. The visit has been generously supported by the Ludwig Fund, New College, Oxford, and the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, University of Oxford.
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Boris Frumin (b. 24 November 1947, Riga) is one of the leading directors to come out of the Soviet ‘new wave’ movement of the 1970s. Educated at the State Film Institute in Moscow (VGIK), he already attracted attention with his prizewinning coursework short, Three. His Diary of a Head Teacher, shot at Lenfilm in 1974, was controversial enough to earn him a short period of exile at the Riga Studios, where he made Family Melodrama (1976).
For Errors of Youth, made back at Lenfilm, Frumin radically transformed a soft-centered script by Eduard Topol into an unsparing account of late Soviet life. The central character slightly resembles Lindsay Anderson’s protagonist in Oh Lucky Man (1973), and has a similar life of desultory sexual encounters and bungled attempts at self-enrichment. Completed in 1978, the film was repeatedly returned for further edits by the State Film Board (Goskino), provoking Frumin’s emigration from the USSR. The film was ‘shelved’ for nearly a decade before being cleared for release in 1987 with the support of the Union of Filmmakers. It was well received at home, and in 1989 was screened in the Un certain regard section at Cannes.
Since his emigration, Boris Frumin has directed three further films, scripted five others, and acted as producer of Hostages (shown at the Berlin Film Festival, 2017). In 1993 and 2006, he was a prizewinner at the ‘Window on Europe’ Festival, one of post-Soviet Russia’s premier movie events. Until 2017, he taught film at NYU .
As well as Errors of Youth, we will be showing ¡Viva Castro! (Lenfilm, 1993). Set in Gatchina, a small town outside Leningrad, in the mid-1960s, the film follows the life of a group of young people just before and after they leave school. Boris Frumin has commented on the two movies: ‘“Errors” was a Soviet — under censorship — product. “Castro” was directed with “no budget”, but no one was “watching” – it was a “perestroika” product. Directing “Castro” — I had the opportunity to make it my way. But — then — small budget, short schedule, accidental crew (after being absent from Lenfilm studio for a few years etc). It is a Soviet movie made after Soviet times.’