One of Russia’s best-known film directors, Alexei German, died today at the age of 74 from heart failure, according to a blogpost written by his son. German gained prominence during perestroika in the 1980s for his gritty, near documentary portrayals of the Stalin period shot in black and white.
German was born in Leningrad, now St Petersburg, in 1938 and shot to fame after his third film, My Friend Ivan Lapshin. The film was based on a novel by his father, Yuri German, in which he chronicles life in a communal flat in 1930s provincial Russia at a time when Josef Stalin’s cult of personality was a prominent part of Russian culture. The film, which was banned for three years after it was completed in 1982 because of political sensitivities, was voted one of the ten best Soviet films of all time by Russian critics.
German had spent the last 13 years working on a screen adaptation of Hard to Be a God by the Strugatsky brothers, which was widely rumoured to be premiering at Cannes this year. The future of the film remains unclear.