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EISENSTEIN: THE MASTER'S HOUSE

Germany, 1998 (MIFF 1998, Documentaries - Eisenstein)

Director: Naum Klejmann, Marianna Kirejewa, Alexander Iskin

Eisenstein: The Master's House is a highly accessible and exhaustively thorough overview of the life and work of Sergei Eisenstein, one of the most significant fiimmakers in motion picture history. Eisenstein was born in Riga, in Tsarist Russia, in 1898 to high expectations from his wealthy Jewish parents. With the 1917 Revolution, Russia's apparent quietude came to an end. So did the security of family life for Eisenstein with his parents' divorce. Still enrolled in the Civil Engineering Institute, he went to theatres, read Nietzsche and 'dreamt of the arts'. For Eisenstein, the Revolution was a road to personal freedom. He abandoned his studies in architecture, became a student and began making short films. For the rest of his life, his feature films brought him to loggerheads with Soviet censorship and labels including 'historically incorrect'.

More than just a chronicle of Eisenstein's life, this fascinating documentary takes us into the master's intellectual universe. Discreetly broken down into ten chapters - referred to aptly as 'houses' - the film builds a developing chain of associations, weaving together moments of Eisenstein's creative energy both on and off the screen. The filmmakers apply a pastiche of sequences from Eisenstein's films, film sequences from directors he admired, historical documentary footage, photographs and newly shot sequences. Like Eisenstein's own keenness to make surprising and unexpected connections between different cultural epochs, Eisenstein: The Master's House draws new conclusions which are best appreciated from the wider perspective the film offers.

Naum Klejmann was born in 1937 and educated in Siberia. After studying at Film Institute VGIK in Moscow (film criticism and film history), he eventually became director of the Eisenstein Cabinet in Moscow. Through his articles, books and lectures he has come to be recognised as a leading expert on the work of Eisenstein. Klejmann has also been charged with reconstructing two of Eisenstein's films from surviving footage.

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