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Churikova, Inna

CHURIKOVA, Inna


Nationality: Russian. Born: Belibey, USSR (now Russia), 5 October 1943; sometimes credited as Inna Tschurikowa. Family: Married to Gleb Panfilov, Russian film director. Career: Became known for her work as an actress in films by Gleb Panfilov; appeared on stage of the Moscow Comsomol Theater. Awards: Silver Bear for Best Actress, Berlin International Film Festival, for Voyenno-polevoj roman, 1984; Nika Best Actress Award, for Rebro Adama, 1991.


Films as Actress:

1960

Tuchi nad Borskom (Clouds Over Borsk) (Vasili Ordynsky)

1963

Ya shagayu po Moskve (I Step Through Moscow) (Georgi Daneliya)

1964

Morozko (Jack Frost) (Aleksandr Rou) (as Marfushka)

1965

Tridtsat tri (Nenauchnaya fantastika) (33) (Georgi Daneliya); Stryapukha (The Cook) (Edmond Keosayan)

1966

Starshaya sestra (Elder Sister) (Georgi Natanson); 1966 Neulovimye mstiteli (The Elusive Revengers) (Edmond Keosayan)

1967

V ogne broda net (There Is No Crossing in Fire) (Gleb Panfilov) (as Tanya Tyotkina)

1970

Nachalo (Beginning) (Panfilov) (as Pasha Stroganova)

1975

Proshu slova (I Want the Floor) (Panfilov) (as Yelisaveta Uvarova)

1979

Tot samyi Myunkhgauzen (That Munchhausen) (Mark Zakharov—for TV) (as Jakobina Munchhausen)

1979

Tema (The Theme) (Panfilov) (as Sasha)

1981

Valentina (Valentine) (Panfilov) (as Anna)

1983

Voyenno-polevoy roman (War-Time Romance) (Pyotr Todorovsky); Vassa (Panfilov) (as Vassa Zheleznova)

1984

Myortvye dushi (Dead Souls) (Mikhail Shvejtser—for TV)

1986

Kuryer (Messenger) (Karen Shakhnazarov) (as Ivan's mother)

1989

Mat (Mother) (Panfilov) (as Pelageia Nilovna); Gamlet (Hamlet) (Panfilov) (as Gertrud)

1990

Rebro Adama (Adam's Rib) (Vyacheslav Krishtofovich) (as Nina)

1993

Plashch Kazanovy (Il Mantello di Casanova; Casanova's Raincoat) (Aleksandr Galin)

1993

God sobaki (The Year of a Dog) (Semyon Aranovich) (as Vera)

1994

Kurochka Ryaba (Ryaba My Chicken) (Andrei Konchalovsky) (as Asya)

1995

Shirli-Myrli (What a Mess!) (Vladimir Menshov) (as Krolikovs' mother)



Publications


On CHURIKOVA: books—

Zorkaya, Neya, The Illustrated History of Soviet Cinema, New

York, 1989.

* * *

Inna Churikova's plain looks and wide-eyed demeanor often obscure the fact that she is a film star of the highest stature. A leading actress of Soviet and Russian cinema, she created a gallery of remarkable female portraits. Her seemingly common protagonists usually show uncommon talents or reveal striking personalities under the surface. Because Churikova's unique presence in Soviet cinema has done much to strengthen the self-esteem of ordinary women, her oeuvre can be described as a truly feminist project. Her best roles were in films made at the height at the Cold War, which is why her work is little known and insufficiently appreciated in the West.

Churikova first appeared in films in the early 1960s, cast in supporting roles in popular Soviet films like the action-adventure Neulovimye mstiteli (1966) and in comedies by Georgi Danelia. But it was not until she met Gleb Panfilov (1934—), a former chemical engineer from Magnitogorsk who had then studied cinematography and directing at VGIK, that she found her real artistic self. For more than two decades Churikova worked almost exclusively with Panfilov, whom she also married. The couple created a series of remarkable films that centered on strikingly original, strong, and memorable female protagonists. According to film historian Neya Zorkaya, Panfilov and Churikova's special achievement was in their ability to tell stories of "artistic, unusual and even exceptional women capable of daring actions, even when their individuality was obstructed by everyday routine."

Churikova's first big role under Panfilov's direction was in the 1967 film V ogne broda net. It is the story of Tanya Tyotkina, an ordinary peasant girl and a committed revolutionary who discovers her exclusive talent for naivist painting during the civil war of 1918–1920. The film is about the dilemmas faced by the nontraditional heroine when she has to make choices between the call of history and her own artistic realization. The next Churikova/Panfilov film continued her specialization in roles of ordinary women who have to make extraordinary decisions. The protagonist of Nachalo (1970) is a weaver in a provincial factory who plays in an amateur theater on her free evenings, and who is unexpectedly given the chance to test for the role of Jeanne d'Arc in a forthcoming production. This remarkable story of personal growth and artistic ambition is one of Churikova's best roles.

In Proshu slova (1975) Churikova played Yelizaveta Uvarova, an idealist and hard working council official in a provincial Russian town, eager to improve the poor living conditions in the worker's quarters. Uvarova's contradictions were representative of the problems faced by what has been described by critics as "a Soviet superwoman," one who is in control of her career and ambitions but who nonetheless remains lonely and unhappy in her personal life. The film, which was one of the Russian examples of what in an Eastern European context was known as a cinema of moral anxiety, introduced a new kind of critical realist reflection on the Soviet socialist reality.

In Tema (1979) Churikova played yet another provincial woman, a literature-loving museum guide in the historic town of Vladimir. At work she accidentally meets a famous writer, played by the great Soviet actor Mikhail Ulyanov, who has withdrawn to Vladimir in order to live through a creative crisis. Theirs is an encounter between the creative personality of the writer, shown here as a conformist and self-obsessed egotist, and Churikova's ordinary protagonist, who has preserved a much higher moral integrity. Based on the play Last Summer in Chulimsk by Alexander Vampilov and set in a Siberian inn, Panfilov/Churikova's next film, Valentina (1981), once again treated the topic of choices faced by ordinary women and issues of personal integrity

The 1980s for Churikova and Panfilov were the time of literary adaptations: two based on Maxim Gorky's work, and one on Shakespeare. The pre-revolutionary melodrama Vassa (1983) focused on yet another strong character, the shipyard owner Vassa Zheleznova, and her family tragedy. In Mat (1989), Churikova was Pelageia Nilovna, a proletarian woman in a drama of personal revolutionary growth. Based on real events from the time of the 1905 revolution in Russia, this work of Gorky had first been adapted for the screen by Vsevolod Pudovkin in 1926, and then by Mark Donskoy in 1955. Panfilov's adaptation was acclaimed at Cannes, at the European Film Awards, and won several of the newly established Russian Nika awards. In 1989 Churikova also appeared as Gertrude in an unconventional adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet. In the 1980s Churikova also started appearing in films by other directors, where she mostly had important supporting roles. An example is Pyotr Todorovsky's drama Voyenno-polevoy roman (1983), which revolved around the post-war traumatic encounter between a former front-line officer, now happily married, and a former field nurse who now faces the harsh realities of life. The film was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film; Churikova, who played the protagonist's wife, won an award at the Berlin Film Festival for her performance.

In the 1990s Churikova had several central roles in films made by directors other than Panfilov. Her first high-profile role was in the bittersweet comedy-drama Rebro Adama (1990, directed by Vyacheslav Krishtovich), in which Churikova played a twice-divorced mother sharing a crammed Moscow apartment with her two grown-up daughters and her old mother. Churikova's next role was as Vera in God sobaki (1993) where she was a simple-minded middle-aged provincial woman living through a troublesome relationship with a newly released convict. In Plashch Kazanovy (1993), a film which is believed to be an allegory of Russia's post-communist flirtation with the West, she played a Russian woman who accidentally gets involved with an Italian gigolo. In Andrei Konchalovsky's Kourotchka Riaba (1994), Churikova appeared as Assia, an old maid who lives by herself in a remote village and makes a living by selling eggs and brewing home-made spirits. One day she finds a miraculous golden egg, an event which triggers a series of problems for her and her fellow villagers. The film, which is a sequel to Konchalovsky's celebrated and banned 1966 Istoriya Asi Klyachinoj, kotoraya lyubila, da ne vyshla zamuzh (1966), is equally critical of the social realities of post-communist Russia. It was nominated for Golden Palm at the 1994 Cannes film festival.

—Dina Iordanova

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