Capital Celluloid 2022 — Day 156: Tue Jun 7

The Asthenic Syndrome (Muratova, 1989): Rio Cinema, 6.15pm

This screening of Kira Muratova’s The Asthenic Syndrome is programmed by Oliver Dickens to raise funds for Ukraine humanitarian aid and the National Oleksandr Dovzhenko Film Centre in Kyiv. The Russian invasion has disrupted funding, making it not only impossible for the Dovzhenko Centre to cover basic costs such as utilities or to continue its regular activities, but also to pay its staff salaries. Proceeds from this screening will be split between the Dovzhenko Centre and Ukraine humanitarian aid.

Kira Muratova (1934-2018) was one of the most suppressed (and most transgressive) filmmakers of the Soviet era. She graduated from the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography in Moscow, before moving to Odessa, Ukraine where she would make most of her films. Her most celebrated film, the epic The Asthenic Syndrome was winner of the Silver Bear at the 1990 Berlinale and brought her international acclaim. The film will be introduced by Dr Elena Gorfinkel of King's College, London.

Chicago Reader review:
A great movie (1989), but not a pleasant or an easy one. Directed by the transgressive Kira Muratova in her mid-50s, it has been rightly called the only “masterpiece of glasnost,” though it was banned by the Russian government for obscenity. Beginning as a powerful black-and-white narrative about a middle-aged woman doctor in an exploding, aggressive rage over the death of her husband (who resembles Stalin), the film eventually turns into an even more unorthodox tale in color about a schoolteacher (cowriter Sergei Popov) who periodically falls asleep regardless of what’s happening around him. (The title alludes to a form of disability that encompasses both the doctor’s aggressiveness and the schoolteacher’s passivity.) Though this tragicomic epic has plenty to say about postcommunist Russia, it also deals more generally with the demons loose in today’s world. It may drive you nuts–as it was undoubtedly meant to–but you certainly won’t forget it.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is an extract.

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