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Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors 12A

Screened in partnership with Ukrainian Institute London
Sergei Parajanov, UkrSSR, 1965, 98m.

This screening is a part of an educational program dedicated to Ukrainian cinema history in partnership with the Ukrainian Institute London.

Two Hutsul families have been bitter enemies for many years. In the atmosphere of anger and revenge,

pure and true love is born between Ivan and Marichka, despite belonging to warring families. In order to prepare for their marriage, Ivan leaves the village to work and earn money for a household. When he is gone, Marichka accidentally slips into a river and drowns trying to rescue a lost lamb. Ivan tries hard to forget his beloved, but he can’t.

The most important Ukrainian film of the second half of the 20th century was created at the turning point of Ukrainian history - in the last year of the Thaw, the period when Soviet censorship and repressions were loosened. Its premiere turned into a political demonstration of dissidents, the first protest of its kind in the USSR after WWII. Valuable for its innovative cinematic language, the film became emblematic of the so-called ‘Ukrainian poetic film school’ and had a significant impact on contemporary Ukrainian films.  


Based on the classic Ukrainian book of the same name, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors touches on a multitude of themes that include religion, family, and tradition. A sensory overload on an audiovisual level, Parajanov’s one-of-a-kind film captures color, costuming, and ethnic music through chaotic if poetic camerawork. At a time when dreary Socialist Realism dominated Soviet cinema, the invention and the imagination of Parajanov’s works challenged the idea of sanctioned art, utilising unprecedented techniques that redefined what cinema could be.

Ivan Mykolaichuk, Larysa Kadochnikova, Tatyana Bestayeva, Spartak Bahashvili

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