Adventures in Eastern Europe: a cult cinema playlist from Dan Bird

Adventures in Eastern Europe: a cult cinema playlist from Dan Bird

To accompany our interview with Eastern European cult cinema aficionado Dan Bird on the Klassiki Podcast, we present this special playlist.

Dan Bird is a writer, curator, archivist, and filmmaker. Through his work in restoration, retrospectives, biography, and distribution, he has championed countless films from Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. and has played a key role in preserving the legacies of iconic figures like Walerian Borowczyk, Sergei Parajanov, and Andrzej Żuławski. During his recent appearance on the Klassiki Podcast, Dan made reference to a wide range of directors and titles that have influenced his career, many of which are available to watch now for Klassiki subscribers. So, we decided to compile this handy playlist to help you dive into the wild world of cult cinema from the region. Happy watching!

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Adventures in Eastern Europe: a cult cinema playlist from Dan Bird
  • Love Affair, or The Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator

    Directed by Dušan Makavejev • 1967 • Yugoslavia

    This gleefully subversive, formally skittish, and surprisingly moving oddity from the inimitable Dušan Makavejev is a high point of the Yugoslav Black Wave. Centred around the doomed romance between a Hungarian switchboard operator Izabela (Eva Ras...

  • Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors

    Directed by Sergei Parajanov • 1965 • USSR/Ukraine

    The first mature masterpiece from one of world cinema’s true poets, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors bursts with imagination. Grounded in the folk traditions, aesthetics, and dialect of the Hutsul people of western Ukraine, Parajanov’s tale of for...

  • Hakob Hovnatanyan

    Directed by Sergei Parajanov • 1967 • Armenia/USSR

    After completing Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors and before embarking on The Colour of Pomegranates, the great Sergei Parajanov produced this exquisite miniature about the work of Hakob Hovnatanyan, a nineteenth-century Armenian portraitist rever...

  • Jirtdan

    Directed by Aghanaghi Akhundov and Yalchin Efendiyev • 1969 • USSR/Azerbaijan

    Produced at the start of the golden age of Azerbaijani animation, Akhundov and Efendiyev’s Jirtdan (meaning “small” or “dwarf”) is a magical little treat in which the titular tiny hero and his brothers must outwit the ...

  • The White Bird Marked with Black

    Directed by Yuri Ilyenko • 1971 • USSR/Ukraine

    Yuri Ilyenko’s landmark film follows the Zvonars, a family of poor musicians, as personal and geopolitical crises collide across the course of the tumultuous 1940s. Set in the region of Bukovina, on the border between Ukraine and Romania, Ilyenko’s ...

  • The Long Farewell

    Directed by Kira Muratova • 1971 • USSR/Ukraine

    Ukrainian auteur Kira Muratova’s sophomore directorial effort, The Long Farewell was shelved by censors until 1987, then heralded as a lost masterpiece. This simple tale of maternal jealousy and filial rebellion is transformed by Muratova into a th...

  • Brief Encounters

    Directed by Kira Muratova • 1967 • USSR/Ukraine

    The debut feature from one of Russian-language cinema’s most fearless auteurs, Brief Encounters is a quietly devastating gem. Banned for twenty years and only rediscovered in the late ‘80s, this beautifully staged domestic drama uses flashbacks to ...

  • My Friend Ivan Lapshin

    Directed by Aleksei German • 1984 • USSR/Russia

    Russian auteur Aleksei German’s masterpiece journeys into the past, as an elderly man reflects on his childhood in a communal apartment in a mid-thirties provincial town. As a nine-year-old boy, he is witness to the lives of those around him – chie...

  • Khrustalyov, My Car!

    Directed by Aleksei German • 1998 • Russia

    Moscow, February 1953. General Yuri Klensky is a prominent brain surgeon, living a life of luxury and prestige – until he is accused of being part of a plot to kill Stalin. The story of his arrest, torture, and eventual “freedom” upon Stalin’s own death...

  • Autumn Sun

    Directed by Bagrat Oganesyan • 1977 • USSR / Armenia

    Strikingly progressive and beautifully crafted, Bagrat Oganesyan’s Autumn Sun tells the story of Aghun (a bravado performance by the director’s own wife, Anahit Gukasyan), a simple woman forced to contend with the banal cruelties of the men wh...