SHADOWS OF FORGOTTEN ANCESTORS (TINI ZABUTYKH PREDKIV) (Sergei Parajanov, 1964)
Museum of the Moving Image
35th Ave. at 36th St., Astoria
Friday, August 8, $10, 7:00
Series runs August 8-10
For a decade, the Rural Route Film Festival has been taking viewers to unique places around the world, far off the beaten track and away from urban centers, instead showing works “that take the road less traveled.” The festival is kicking off its tenth anniversary in a big way, with a fiftieth anniversary screening of Sergei Parajanov’s seminal Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors. Parajanov’s reimagining of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet announces exactly what it is in the opening credits: “A tale of times past, of the great love of Ivan and Marichka. . . . The folk tales and customs of the Carpathian region.” Made in 1964 in honor of the centennial of the birth of Ukrainian author Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky, whose source novel was published in 1913, Shadows follows the friendship and romance of Ivan (Ivan Mikolajchuk) and Marichka (Larysa Kadochnikova), from childhood, when they are kids splashing water on each other, through marriage, war, and tragedy. In fact, there is a lot of tragedy throughout the film, even before Ivan’s family is cursed by a witchlike woman in their Hutsul village.
Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors is filled with fascinating scenes of Ukrainian rituals featuring extravagant costumes and marvelous masks that would make Margaret Mead proud. In one of the film’s most haunting scenes, Parajanov (The Color of Pomegranates, Ashik Kerib), moving between color and black-and-white, superimposes moments of Ivan’s past over religious imagery that sets up the second half of the story, in which things go from bad to worse. The film did not fit within the Soviet regime’s preferred social realism and ideology but it was an international success, although the director was soon blacklisted and arrested and much of his work was banned. A new fiftieth-anniversary 35mm restoration of Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors is screening at the Museum of the Moving Image on August 8 at 7:00, preceded by Sashko Danylenko’s five-minute animated “Carpathian Rap” video for the Ukrainian band Dakha Brakha and followed by a vodka reception; the Rural Route Film Festival runs August 8-10 and includes such other films as Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man, Daniel Peddle’s Sunset Edge, and Alexsei Fedorchenko’s Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari.