Kira Georgievna Muratova (5 November 1934 – 6 June 2018) was a Soviet-Ukrainian award-winning film director, screenwriter and actress of Romanian/Jewish descent, known for her unusual directorial style. Muratova's films underwent a great deal of censorship in the Soviet Union, yet still Muratova managed to emerge as one of the leading figures in contemporary Russian cinema and was able to build a very successful film career from 1960s onwards. Muratova, along with Nikita Mikhalkov, Vadim Abdrashitov, Aleksandr Sokurov, Aleksei German, and Aleksei Balabanov are considered arguably Russia's lead filmmakers who weathered the collapse of the USSR yet managed to productively continue their filmmaking work from the early 1990s onward.
Muratova spent much of her artistic career in Odessa, creating most of her films at Odesa Film Studios.
Kira Korotkova was born in 1934 in Soroca, Romania (present-day Moldova) to a Russian father and a Romanian mother (of Bessarabian Jewish origin). Her parents were both active communists and members of the Communist Party. Her father, Yuri Korotkov, participated in the anti-fascist guerilla movement in World War II, was arrested by Romanian forces and shot after interrogation. After the war, Kira lived in Bucharest with her mother, a gynaecologist, who then pursued a government career in Socialist Romania.
In 1959, Kira graduated from the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography in Moscow, specializing in directing. Upon graduation Korotkova received a director position with the Odessa Film Studio in Odessa, a port city at the Black Sea near to her native Bessarabia. She directed her first professional film in 1961 and worked with the studio until a professional conflict made her to move to Leningrad in 1978. There she made one film with Lenfilm Studio, but returned to Odessa afterwards. Muratova's films came under constant criticism of the Soviet officials due to her idiosyncratic film language that did not comply with the norms of socialist realism. Film scholar Isa Willinger has compared Muratova's cinematographic form to the Soviet Avant-garde, especially to Eisenstein's montage of attractions. Several times Muratova was banned from working as a director for a number of years each time.
Kira married her fellow Odessa studio director Oleksandr Muratov in the early 1960s and co-created several films with him. The couple had a daughter, Marianna, but soon divorced and Muratov moved to Kiev where he started work with Dovzhenko Film Studios. Kira Muratova kept her ex-husband's surname despite her later marriage to Leningrad painter and production designer Evgeny Golubenko.
In the 1990s, an extremely productive period began for Muratova, during which she shot a feature film every two or three years, often working with the same actors and crew. Two actresses Muratova has repeatedly cast are Renata Litvinova and Natalya Buzko. Muratova's films were usually productions of Ukraine or co-productions between Ukraine and Russia, always in the Russian language, although Muratova could speak Ukrainian and did not object to the Ukrainianization of Ukrainian cinema. Muratova supported the Euromaidan protesters and the following 2014 Ukrainian revolution.
Muratova's films were premiered at International Film Festivals in Berlin, Cannes, Moscow, Rome, Venice and others. Next to Aleksandr Sokurov, She was considered the most idiosyncratic contemporary Russian-language film director. Her works can be seen as postmodern, employing eclecticism, parody, discontinuous editing, disrupted narration and intense visual and sound stimuli.
Recognition and awards
It was only during Perestroyka that Muratova received wide public recognition and first awards. In 1988, the International Women's Film Festival Créteil (France) showed a first retrospective of her works. Her film Among Grey Stones was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival. In 1990, her film Asthenic Syndrome won the Jury Grand Prix at the Berlinale. In 1994, she was awarded the Leopard of Honour for her life oeuvre at The Locarno International Film Festival (Switzerland) and in 2000, she was given the Andrzej Wajda Freedom Award. In 1997, her film Three Stories was entered into the 47th Berlin International Film Festival. Her 2002 film Chekhov's Motifs was entered into the 24th Moscow International Film Festival. Her film The Tuner was shown at the Venice Film Festival in 2004. Her films received the Russian "Nika" prize in 1991, 1995, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2013. In 2005, a retrospective was shown at the Lincoln Center in New York City. In 2013, a full retrospective of her films was shown at the International Film Festival Rotterdam.