Sunday, January 01, 2017

Yevgeny Yufit (1961 - 2016)

2016 is already being commemorated as an exceptionally grim year on many levels. The unremitting torrent of cinema-related deaths that coursed through the last twelve months has been much commented upon, with Daniel Kasman's round-up of 2016's departed providing a bleak overview of its erosive progress. 

Yet the passing of one of the greatest talents that film has recently lost is not only unmentioned in Kasman's overview but appears to have gone entirely unremarked, at least in the West. I only hope there has been more comment in his native Russia...

True, Yevgeny Yufit is hardly a household name. But the mad fury of his nihilistic 'necrorealist' shorts in which only life itself remains in all its spasmodic hideousness and vitality, and the poetically unsettling pseudo-science of features, mean a great deal more to me (and some of my close colleagues) than any number of established household names.

To get the basics about Yufit and Necorealism, I recommend this brief 2013 summation posted by the Obskura website in 2013. It begins thus:

"Originated in the 1980s, Necrorealism was the first Soviet cinematic avant-garde since the 1920s. The name of the new Eisenstein was Yevgeny Yufit."

A good number of his films are available on Youtube. I find them energising and liberating beyond words. Their basis in silent cinema is of particular appeal: in returning to its origins to attempt self-destruction, cinema once again proves its spectral indestructibility.



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