Visit by the Film Director Vitaly Mel'nikov

Film showings (with English subtitles) and discussion with the director

Thursday, 9 March (Taylor Institution Main Lecture Hall) 

1.30-3.20 Wedding (film showing)

3.30-4.55 Mother's Got Married (film showing)

5.15-6.30 Discussion with the director, Vitaly Mel'nikov

These events will be preceded by a showing of Vitaly Mel'nikov's Son and Heir at Wolfson College, 3 pm, Saturday 4 March

Vitaly Mel'nikov (b. 1928) is one of Russia's foremost film directors. Born in the far East of the Soviet Union, he studied at film school in Moscow (VGIK) and began his career at the Leningrad Educational Film Studio before moving to Lenfil'm. He acted as assistant director on Joseph Heifitz's A Day of Happiness [Den' schast'ya, 1963], and his first solo film was the comedy animal short Gruff Visits Bobby [Barbos v gostyakh u Bobika, 1964]. The Captain of Chukotka [Nachal'nik Chukotki, 1966], an ironic presentation of an episode from the Russian Civil War, further established his credentials as a specialist in subtle humour, but his later work also includes literary adaptations, historical films, and gritty 'new wave' dramas. To celebrate Vitaly Mel'nikov's visit to Oxford, we are showing two of his best-loved movies, Mother's Got Married [Mama vyshla zamuzh, 1969] and Wedding [Zhenit'ba, 1977, an adaptation of Nikolai Gogol's play]. Mother's Got Married, with superb cinematography by Dmitry Dolinin, one of Lenfil'm's most talented camera operators, narrates the story of how Zina's second marriage creates friction with her teenage son. The film was considered shocking in its time and was allowed only limited release in the years after it was completed. Wedding showcases the work of another leading camera operator, Yuri Veksler; like Mother's Got Married, it has striking music by Oleg Karavaichuk, perhaps the most original film composer of his generation. Tea will be served in the Lecture Hall between the showings and the discussion.   

On Saturday, 4 March, at 3 pm in Wolfson College (Leonard Wolfson Auditorium), we will be showing Vitaly Mel'nikov's made-for-TV film Starshii syn [Son and Heir], released in 1976. This film, based on a play by Alexander Vampilov, was one of the all-time hits of the Soviet small screen. A prizewinner at the 1976 Intermission TV films competition in Prague, it was a major critical as well as popularl success. The story of how a young student tries to persuade a middle-aged father that he is his long-lost son turned Nikolai Karachentsov and Mikhail Boyarsky, playing his friend, into major stars, and the film is also a showcase for the remarkable talents of the actor Evgeny Leonov.

All events are free and open to all. For further information please contact

We gratefully acknowledge support from the AHRC for these events under Catriona Kelly's Leadership award, 'The Soviet Cine-Underground: Lenfilm Studio, 1961-1985'. 

Catriona Kelly, MA D.Phil FBA, Professor of Russian, University of Oxford

Marina Samsonova, Research Assistant, The Soviet Cine-Underground