The Arty Semite

Russia Reverses Course on Boris Pasternak Doc

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Russia’s Channel One commissioned “The Crime of Boris Pasternak” from Svetlana Rezvushkina’s Lavr Film Studio, and then — giving no reason — refused to air it upon its completion. Was it because the film wasn’t commercial enough? Or was it because the television station thought it wouldn’t interest young viewers? These are possible answers, but Rezvushkina, a veteran journalist and documentary filmmaker, suspects there may have been political motives behind the government-run channel’s change of heart.

Thanks to the filmmaker’s persistence, the hour-long documentary about the final, and most fascinating, decade-and-a half-of the Russian poet, translator and novelist’s life is now being shown to audiences. It has had several screenings in Moscow (including one at the Jewish community center there), one at a French film festival, and another at the United Nations Association Film Festival in Palo Alto, California in October. It has finally been bought by another Russian television channel, and will be broadcast this month.

“It is important to show this film in Russia,” Rezvushkina said. “We still remember that time, and a time like that could come again.”

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