Female Filmmaker Friday: Kira Muratova, Remembering the Director and Her Unapologetic Style

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Kira Muratova passed away on June 6 at the age of 83. But her works will stay in the minds of those who admired her.

Kira Muratova was a celebrated Ukrainian director, screenwriter, and actress whose films were mostly censored in the Soviet Union.

Muratova concentrated on directing during her time at Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography in Moscow. She graduated in 1959. It was at the Odessa Film Studio that she received her first position, and by 1961, she was directing her first film. In the 1990s, Muratova flourished, with her films receiving national recognition at many film festivals.

Her film The Asthenic Syndrome, a black satire on Soviet society, won a special jury prize at the 1990 Berlin Film Festival.

Muratova’s style is unique from other Eastern Slavic filmmakers. Russian art films of the late twentieth century dealt with much magical realism. However, Muratova’s films focused on real life in the Soviet Union. While other filmmakers did their best to romanticize the state of life, Muratova showed an ugly, dark, and cruel side she deemed necessary to depict. For this reason, many of her films were censored in the Soviet Union. What makes her unique to other “dark-themed” directors is her refusal to stylize its depiction. Her violence is crude. Nude bodies are not considered attractive, but real. She doesn’t shy away from physical handicaps. But, these images are not there to “put down” these features. Instead, Muratova shows the audience the ordinary, real-life flesh and ugliness they might come across each day, challenging their perspective on what is beauty.

Her films can be difficult to watch given most of her characters speak in high-pitched voices, scream without reason, and take on, at times, absurd actions, and plotlines. It can be difficult for a modern-day audience to take the ride along with these characters, but those who do will come out with a true sense of life through Muratova’s realist eye.

It is with no doubt Muratova, who recently passed away at the age of eighty-three, is a major influence in the work of Russian and Ukrainian filmmakers today. Her voice and legacy in Soviet era film will never leave the minds of those who have watched her films.

Here is a clip from her film Brief Encounters: