Bolshevo

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Besides our building, which was all about cinema, there was also Bolshevo, thirty kilometers from Moscow, a resort where we spent our vacations. We usually went there in winter. In summer we lived in our country dacha, which Father had built himself. He loved planting tomatoes and potatoes and tending his apple trees.

The filmmakers' house in Bolshevo had been built in 1936 by Shumyat-sky, who was the cinema commissar in those days. People went there to write screenplays, and many lived there for extended periods, working or just vacationing. When the country was on the six-day workweek, they usually came on Saturday nights; when the five-day week was instituted, people spent the whole weekend there. In those years Bolshevo was the only resort where cinema workers could go. Later, in the 1960s to the 1980s, the state built similar places not far from Leningrad, in Repino and in Pitsunda on the Black Sea.

The house in Bolshevo was always full. Directors, actors, writers, and cine-matographers enjoyed being there. Sergei Gerassimov would come with Tamara Makarova; Roman Karmen, with his wife, the beautiful Maya (who later left him for the writer Vassily Aksyonov—for some reason all wives left Kar-men, even though he was handsome and very famous); and also Sergei Yutke-vich, Yevgeny Gabrilovich, and Yuli Raizman were often seen there. Sometimes I met Sergei Urusevsky, who had become very famous after making The Cranes Are Flying, directed by Mikhail Kalatozov. Urusevsky was a friend of my father's and always responded with some nice joke. But I was very shy and afraid to speak, merely gaping in silent hero worship.

In the late 1950s, our legendary singer Leonid Utesov spent at least six months a year there. The most popular Soviet stand-up comedian, Arkady Rai-kin, also visited often.

Utesov was a marvelous storyteller, enchanting the entire company. People rolled on the floor, laughing at his jokes. He had stopped singing by then. He would vacation in Bolshevo with his wife and his daughter, Edit. She had a lovely husband, Albert Gendelshtein, a director of popular science films, handsome and masculine. I think he liked me. I liked him too, even though he was a good forty years older. He developed Parkinson's disease, and it was a terrible sight to see that gorgeous man wasting away.

There were all kinds of scandals in Bolshevo. Piriev came with Lusya Mar-chenko, and everyone gossiped about how he had abandoned his second wife, Marina Ladynina, the star in all his comedies.

Lusya was a pretty and promising actress—her part in Lev Kulidzhanov's Father's House was proof of that. She and Piriev's son Andrei Ladynin were schoolmates, and once when Andrei had invited her to his home, his father fell madly in love with her. Piriev was a passionate man who could not live a life of lies. He left his wife, moved in with Lusya, and starred her in some of his films. The story ended when Lusya fell in love with Oleg Strizhenov, a handsome movie star. We witnessed the dramatic scene when Lusya threw Piriev out, yelling from the balcony, ''Get out of here! I love Strizhenov, not you!'' After that dramatic interlude, she stopped appearing in films and vanished. I didn't hear about her for many years.

In the late 1970s, while shooting a film about the playwright Mikhail Bulgakov, I needed to interview the screenwriter Sergei Yermolinsky. He lived on the third floor, and we had to pull the cable for our lighting equipment through an apartment on the first floor rather than pull it up the stairs. I rang the doorbell. A slightly shabby woman with faded eyes, an alcohol-swollen face, and a deep scar over her mouth opened the door. There was something familiar about her. Where had I seen her?

''I'm filming Yermolinsky. Could we bring the cable through your place?'' I asked.

There stood Lusya Marchenko . . .

Among all its other attractions, Bolshevo arranged screenings of new films, even of some that had not yet appeared at the Dom Kino in Moscow. And there were seminars and meetings with interesting people, first-class experts from various fields.

It was at Bolshevo, as a schoolgirl in the eighth grade, that I began doing simultaneous voice-over translations of films in English and French. The interpreters who came with the film would translate Saturday evenings and leave on Sunday morning. But sometimes there would be an additional daytime show ing after tea and cakes (those cakes were so good—the whole house smelled of yeast and vanilla). When they asked me to translate, I was nervous and would first watch the film alone. With time I became more emboldened and started translating ''live,'' sometimes making mistakes but trying to save face and keeping people from noticing. It was a good schooling for me. Until I was thirty, I continued translating films on various occasions, and I always enjoyed it.

Another attraction of Bolshevo was the presence of stores and shops. There were many military industrial enterprises in the neighborhood, and they had their own network for shopping

Of course, now these shops would look pathetic compared with what is available today, but in those days Bolshevo shops were special. You could buy imported goods, which in Moscow were available only under the counter.

Nobody would miss an opportunity to get some nice things. I remember Elena Yutkevich, always elegant and flashy, who would proclaim, ''I dress only in Paris and in Bolshevo.''

That was one of the great amusements in Bolshevo. Showing off the latest purchases and discussing where they came from and what could still be bought. Much later, around 1975, when the comedian Arkady Raikin lived in Bolshevo and I was making a film about him, we got into my car (he was recuperating from a heart attack) and went to all the hot spots. The minute we entered one of my favorite shops, the salespeople froze with their mouths open, speechless. The few shoppers also forgot why they were there, all of them staring at Raikin.

The manager invited us to see the hidden storerooms, which made my head spin with their abundance. Of course, the selection could not be compared to a supermarket in a remote European town or to today's street markets at the Dynamo Stadium in Moscow. But back then, it was a more impressive sight than Harrods and Marks and Spencer combined.

After Father's death, Mother stopped going to Bolshevo—she couldn't bear being there without him. I went once in a while, but it wasn't as pleasant and cheerful as before; everything was deteriorating. Soon a new oasis appeared in the suburbs of Moscow: the House of Movie Veterans in Matveyevskoe. This was also a warm, friendly, and hospitable place. Retired filmmakers lived in one part of the house, and other rooms were offered to temporary guests. Now the film crowd preferred Matveyevskoe to Bolshevo.

Another place that brought me joy was Dom Kino, a special theater for members of the Union of Filmmakers. My parents went there frequently and usually took me with them.

I remember the premiere of The Cranes Are Flying, the first Soviet film to win the Golden Palm at the Cannes Festival (1958). What an event! I was sixteen, and I had just decided to start my studies at the vgik. The film was about two young, beautiful people who were preparing to get married but whose lives were destroyed by World War II. The story was quite ordinary, but we had never seen a film like that before, with universal human emotions: love, betrayal, fidelity despite betrayal, hope despite shattered dreams. It was alive, burning, and true and would have been impossible in the Soviet cinema of the Stalin era. It was a breakthrough into an unknown world, into the sphere of relations that were taboo for the socialist realism which had been stifling film, literature, painting, and music. We lived in a straitjacket world where every button was buttoned and where you could relax only at home, behind closed doors. And suddenly from the screen, life, passion, and fresh air burst into that world. I wept through the whole movie, staring at the screen, and then clapped with the rest of the audience until my hands were hurting. The standing ovation lasted twenty minutes. It was deafening, an outlet for feelings that could no longer be suppressed.

I experienced something similar only once more in my life: in 1987, watching Tengiz Abuladze's Repentance, the first film about Soviet totalitarianism, which was groundbreaking. When I came out of the theater and got into my car, I couldn't get hold of myself for a good half hour. The second time I saw it, I wept in the theater. Today you look at the picture and think, ''What's there to cry about?'' In order to understand, you have to have lived the way we did— stifling the desire to tell the truth, not believing in the possibility that the truth could ever be told out loud.

I think that because of Bolshevo and Dom Kino I could not imagine going into any profession other than filmmaking. I didn't even notice how the cinema captured me.

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