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Alexander Dovzhenko

Director

Alexander Petrovich Dovzhenko was a Soviet screenwriter, film producer and director of Ukrainian origin. He is often cited as one of the most important early Soviet filmmakers, alongside Sergei Eisenstein, Dziga Vertov, and Vsevolod Pudovkin, as well as being a pioneer of Soviet montage theory. Although Alexander Dovzhenko's parents were uneducated, his semi-literate grandfather encouraged him to study, leading him to become a teacher at the age of 19. Dovzhenko turned to film in 1926 when he landed in Odessa. His ambitious drive led to the production of his second-ever screenplay, Vasya the Reformer (which he also co-directed). He gained greater success with Zvenyhora in 1928 which established him as a major filmmaker of his era. His following "Ukraine Trilogy" (Zvenigora, Arsenal, and Earth), although underappreciated by some contemporary Soviet critics (who found some of its realism counter-revolutionary), is his most well-known work in the West. For his film Shchors, Dovzhenko was awarded the Stalin Prize (1941); eight years later, in 1949, he was awarded another Stalin Prize for his film Michurin. After spending several years writing, co-writing and producing films at Mosfilm Studios in Moscow, he turned to writing novels. Over a 20-year career, Dovzhenko personally directed only 7 films. He was a mentor to the young Soviet filmmakers Larisa Shepitko and Sergei Parajanov. Dovzhenko died of a heart attack on November 25, 1956 in his dacha in Peredelkino. His wife, Yulia Solntseva, continued his legacy by producing films of her own and completing projects Dovzhenko was not able to create. The Dovzhenko Film Studios in Kiev were named after him in his honour following his death.

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