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Russia’s Oscar Film Nomination to Debut for Center City Audiences

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - The Pennsylvania-Russia Business Council in partnership with the Film at the Prince -- The Sharon Pinkenson Film Project take great pleasure in announcing a promotional Oscar performance of the critically acclaimed film by Director Alexei Uchitel, His Wife’s Diary, 7:30 p.m. Monday, January 29th, 2001 at the Prince Music Theater, 1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. The Russian First Deputy Minister of Culture, Aleksander Golutva will be accompanying Film Director, Mr. Alexei Uchitel at the Prince screening. Both the Deputy Minister and the Director will present brief keynote introductions to the showing. An invitation-only reception will be held to welcome the Film Delegation.

NFRF2.jpg (5k)
Scene from His Wife's Diary

Shortly before it’s Northeast Philadelphia premiere at the Inaugural Philadelphia Festival of Russian Films this past November (where the film played to a packed house!) Uchitel received word that his work was to be the Russian nomination for the Oscars. Cheered by the warm and enthusiastic reception the Festival audience gave to His Wife’s Diary, Mr. Uchitel is returning to our city. Not only does Uchitel enjoy celebrity status within Russia as one of the most beloved film directors of his time, but he is well on his way to becoming active in the American foreign film scene, with appearances in Los Angeles and the Library of Congress in Washington DC. Now a wider audience throughout the Greater Philadelphia region will have a chance to preview one of the major Russian cultural works of recent times.

His Wife’s Diary is set in France during the Second World War. Historically the film reveals the hidden, private side of the great Russian writer and Nobel Laureate, Ivan Alekseivich Bunin. Forced to live as an emigrant in France, away from Russia, Bunin can't find peace in his own family. But beyond this His Wife’s Diary treats universal themes of love and irrationality in a timely commentary on our lives today both here and in Russia. His Wife's Diary is a delightfully crafted tale of the complex love affairs between Bunin, his mistress, his wife and family guests. One could say Uchitel brings uncommon insight into the human character as we all search for love and success. Complete with English subtitles, the work is easily accessible to all those who appreciate quality cinema.

The visit of the First Deputy Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation to Philadelphia's pre-Oscar screening launches the beginning of the Russian film season for 2001 --a year finishing with the PRBC's Second Annual Philadelphia Festival of Russian Films in November 2001.

Both the film itself and the honor of the Deputy Minister's visit are wonderful lead-ins to a year of Russian cultural events designed to bring Russian and non-Russian speakers together in their love of quality performances.

Tickets will be available at the UpStages Box Office.
General Admission: $10.00 Students/Seniors: $6.00

Hosting services provided by the entertainment group, Philadelphia Princesses.

For general ticket information please phone UpStages Box Office: (215) 569-9700.

For all other information please contact Val Kogan, PRBC President at phone: (215) 708-2628, (215) 963-7079, email: prbc@worldnet.att.net or visit the PRBC website at: www.fita.org/prbc.

Dear Sir or Madam:

On behalf of the Pennsylvania-Russia Business Council it gives me great pleasure to invite you to a very special gathering in celebration of our promotional Pre-Oscar Screening of the critically acclaimed film by Director Alexei Uchitel, His Wife's Diary presented by the PRBC in partnership with the Film at the Prince - The Sharon Pinkenson Film Project.

Our Inaugural Philadelphia Festival of Russian Films which premiered November 1-2, 2000 was a great success! His Wife’s Diary played to a sold out house! Shortly before it’s November premiere here Uchitel received word that His Wife’s Diary had received the Russian nomination for this year’s Oscar competition. As a direct result of his positive impression of our efforts, and upon becoming aware of the greater Philadelphia region’s highly regarded network of university film scholars and production experts, the film’s director, Mr. Alexei Uchitel, has decided to present an additional Oscar promotional screening not only in Los Angeles and the Library of Congress in Washington DC but also in Center City, Philadelphia.

We would be pleased to have the honor of your company at a private Reception for this Pre-Oscar Screening from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday, January 29, 2001 at the Mayor’s Reception Room, Room 202, Northeast Corner Entrance, City Hall, Philadelphia.

We are fortunate to be host to a very select Delegation from the Russian Federation led by the First Deputy Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, Mr. Alexander Golutva. Also attending will be Mr. Alexei Uchitel, Director of His Wife's Diary. Not only does Uchitel enjoy celebrity status within Russia as one of the most beloved film directors of his time, but he is well on his way to becoming active in the American foreign film scene.

Please join us in welcoming them to Philadelphia. After the Reception, I encourage you to attend the screening of His Wife's Diary at 7:30 p.m. at the Prince Music Theater, 1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.

The visit of the First Deputy Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation to Philadelphia's pre-Oscar screening launches the beginning of the Russian film season for 2001 --a year finishing with the PRBC's Second Annual Philadelphia Festival of Russian Films in November 2001. Both the film itself and the honor of the Deputy Minister's visit are wonderful lead-ins to a year of Russian cultural events designed to bring Russian and non-Russian speakers together in their love of quality performances.

We invite you to join us as we launch the 2001 season!


Val Kogan

R.S.V.P. Reception & Screening
(215) 708-2628, (215) 963-7079 or email:

Dear Sir or Madam:

You are cordially invited to be a sponsor of the upcoming Philadelphia Pre-Oscar Screening of His Wife’s Diary which will take place January 29, 2001 in Philadelphia.

By becoming a sponsor of a screening of the Russian Federation’s Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film of 2001, you will be helping to promote understanding and awareness of Russian contemporary art and culture for American audiences and providing the opportunity to bring high-quality Russian cinema to the Greater Philadelphia region. In addition your company’s sponsorship of this event means that you would be a part of the Academy Awards process.

Your support will be instrumental in defraying substantial costs of presenting a screening of this importance as well as hosting a delegation from the Ministry of Culture of Russia including the First Deputy Minister of Culture and the film’s director, Mr. Alexei Uchitel. In return, you will be given an excellent forum to promote your business name to ensure its higher visibility among a select audience of film and business professionals.

I sincerely hope that you will choose to be one of the participants in the PRBC’s sponsorship program for this event. The various available levels of sponsorship and their detailed benefits are listed on the attached pages. Please contact the PRBC office at (215) 708-2628, (215) 963-7079 or e-mail us at prbc@worldnet.att.net if you have any questions or need some additional information regarding the Pre-Oscar Screening and its sponsorship arrangements.


Val Kogan
PRBC President

Production Notes

In October, 2000 Russians celebrated the 130th anniversary of the birth of their great author Ivan Bunin, winner of the 1933 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Director Alexey Uchitel's film "His Wife's Diary" unveils the hidden, private side of Bunin's life. Living as an émigré in France, far from Russia and concerned with the fate of his home country being drawn into the Second World War, Bunin cannot find peace in his own family. He lives in an intricate web of love, involving himself, his wife Vera, the young poetess Galina Plotnikova and Marga Kovtun. Galina, his beautiful mistress, lives with him in a menage à trois but leaves him for Marga.

The film is set in France, Sweden and Germany from the 1930s to the '50s, but most of the dramatic events unfold in the South of France where Bunin and his unorthodox family live.

Since historic truth is not what the authors of the film were seeking, Uchitel concentrated instead on Bunin's controversial personality. He is not afraid of showing aspects of the man not found in school textbooks. We see Bunin in all his human frailties, torn by passions and agony. Scenes shot with a high degree of dramatic precision show the many contradictions concealed within one man. Alexey Uchitel has created a beautiful yet tragic story about love and solitude.

One of Russia's most celebrated actors, Andrey Smirnov, who is also a well-known director and playwright, plays the complex Bunin. Galina Tyunina, a renowned stage actress, portrays Vera, a woman torn between her love for Bunin and her despair at their strange and strained relationship. Olga Budina, is Galina, the object of his desire, while Elena Morozova plays Marga, the object of Galina's own lesbian desires. Eugeny Moronov is another famed Russian writer, Leonid Gurov, who lives in the Bunin household, quietly watching the bizarre activities while secretly loving Vera.

Andrey Smirnov's daughter, Dunya Smirnova, a long-time co-author of Alexey Uchitel, wrote the screenplay. In 1997 she received the Hartley-Merrill International Screenwriting Competition. The jury was headed by Robert Redford.

"His Wife's Diary" was produced by Alexander Golutva and Alexey Uchitel. Director of photography Yuri Klimenko has been a leader in his field for the past quarter century. The works of composer Leonid Desyatnikov are frequently played at major European festivals. Production designers were Vera Zelinskaya and Nikola Samonov. Elena Suprun was the costume designer, Make-up was by Irina Melnikova and Tamara Frid with sound by Leonid Lerner.

"His Wife's Diary" is Russia's submission for the 2000 Academy Award Best Foreign Language Film category and has been entered into the 2000 Golden Globe competition. It is the number one film in Russia's box office. The English language Moscow Times said it "is one of those rare films–it is a work that, by remaining true to its own culture, looks set for success both at home and internationally."

The film participated in the 2000 Mill Valley Film Festival. In its review from the AFI Festival the Hollywood Reporter says "His Wife's Dairy" is "a richly evocative portrayal of the life and intriguing times of Nobel Prize-winning author Ivan A. Bunin....With its fine cast and gorgeous, sun-bleached cinematography capturing the memory-stirring power of a fading old photograph–makes for a timeless take on love and loneliness."


Andrey Smirnov
(Ivan Bunin)

As well as being one of Russia's top actors, Smirnov is also an established director and playwright. Born in Moscow in 1941, he graduated from VGIK (the All Union Film Institute) in 1962.

The first feature film he directed was 1964's "An Inch of Earth" followed by "The Joke," "Another's Pain" and "Angel." This was banned by Soviet censorship in 1968 and wasn't shown until the 1987 Turin Film Festival. "The Belorussian Station" (1971) was a hit in the USSR and was named Best Foreign Film in Poland, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. His 1974 film "Autumn" again suffered the wrath of the Soviet censors and was banned in much of the USSR. It was shown outside the Soviet Union for the first time in 1989 in Montreal. He also directed the 1980 film "With Faith and Truth."

Andrey Smirnov has also directed numerous stage plays including "Le Souper," "A Month in the Countrside" and "Comedie Francaise."

His acting career has run concurrent with his directorial duties. Starting in 1961 he has appeared in films such as "Nine Days of One Year," "Following the Trail," "The Red Arrow," "Chemov, Chernov," for which he garnered the Best Actor Award at the 1990 Karlovy Vary Film Festival, "Dreams of the Idiot," "The Cloak of Casanova" and l995's " Giselle's Mania" which was also directed by Alexey Uchitel.

From 1987 to 1995 Smirnov was the art director of the "Debut" and from 1987 to 1989 was acting first secretary of the Union of Film Makers of the USSR.

Galina Tyunina
(Vera Nikolaevna)

Galina Tyunina is a popular actress both on the stage and in movies. She was born in 1967 in the village of Bolshoy Kamen in the Primorsky Territory. She graduated in 1987 from a theater school in Saratov and for two years appeared at the Saratov Drama Theater. Today she is the leading actress in the Moscow Studio Theater.

Together with Andrey Smirnov she appeared in Alexey Uchitel's "Giselle's Mania" in which she starred as the ballerina Olga Spesivtseva. This led to the Russian Film Critics' Award as Best Acting cinema debut in 1996. She also garnered the Best Actress Award at the New Russian Film Festival in Ekaterinburg and numerous other awards including the

Green Apple Award given by the Russian Motion Picture Academy in their Best Actress category.

Galina appeared in the 1999 television series "Directory of Death."

Olga Budina
(Galina Plotnikova)

The 25-year-old actress graduated from the Schukin Film School in 1997. Since then she has appeared in the television series "The Dossier of Detective Dubrovsky," "The Simple Truth" and "Directory of Death." She also acted in the motion pictures "The Romanovs–The Crowned Family" and "The Cheque."

In "His Wife's Diary" Galina plays the real life poet who is Bunin's mistress, a role that is close to home for her. She is head of the women's poetic salon 'The Moscow Muse." She also performs folk songs and jazz-rock, and plays the piano and accordion.

Eugeny Mironov
(Leonid Gurov)

Mironov, who portrays the real-life author Gurov, is a much honored actor, being a Merited Artist of Russia and holder of the State Award of the Russian Federation.

Born in 1966, he graduated from the MHAT Theater College. For the past 10 years he has been the leading actor in the Moscow Theater Studio led by Olga Tabakov. His stage work includes the role of Orest in Peter Stein's "Orestea." He played Hamlet in 1998 and won the Stanislavsky Award for his portrayal of Maratov in the play "The Last Night of the Last Czar." He garnered the State Prize of the Russian Federation for his role in "The Karamazovs and Hell."

His film roles have continued to garner award after award. In the 1992 movie "Love" he was named Best Actor for the Constellation Prize and at the Kinovatr Festival as well as the Geneva Film Festival. Russian film critics named him Best Actor of the Year for " Ancor, Ancor." It was the turn of the Russian Motion Pictures Academy to name him Best Actor for his 1994 role in "Outsiders on a Contract." More awards came for "The Moslem," "Burnt by the Sun " and "Inspector." In 1999 he starred in "Mother."

Elena Morozova
(Marga Kovtun)

Elena is a graduate of the MHAT Theater College. She debuted in the theater affiliated with the Central Actors' Club and has appeared on stage in "The Apricot Paradise," "The Caresses" and "A Month in the Countryside." Since 1999 she has appeared at the Stanislavsky Theater in "The Taming of the Shrew" and "Inspector."

"His Wife's Diary" is Elena's first movie role and it won her the Best Debut Award at the 2000 Open Russian Film Festival, "Kinotavr."

Dani Kogan

Dani is a French actress who has appeared in a number of movies including "Mister Klein," directed by Joseph Losey; George Lautner's "Le Professionel" as well as "Le Choc Choc," "L'Orchestre Rouge," "L'Amante," "Les Veufs" and "Les Petits Bonheurs."


Alexey Uchitel
director, producer

Alexey Uchitel is one of Russia's most famed filmmakers and a winner at many international film festivals.

He was born in Leningrad (now known as St. Petersburg) in 1951. He graduated from the All-Union State Film Institute in 1975 and worked after that at the Leningrad documentary film studio and Lenfilm studio.

He founded the film studio "Rock" in 1990. He holds the title of Merited Worker of Arts of Russia. In his films Uchitel maintains the tradition of Russian documentaries. One of the inspirers of this tradition is his father, the director Efim Uchitel, People's Artist of the USSR. His film "Leningrad In Struggle" (1942) is known around the world.

Alexey's documentaries go beyond the conventional film documentary. The director goes for creating a vivid image, rather than focusing on facts. His famous documentary "Rock" is not merely a sequence of episodes featuring musicians, but stories that illustrate their characters. The focus of attention is the inner world, where the music and lyrics are born. What shows on the screen is a highly unusual and magnetic film, showing the creative atmosphere in which these artists lived and worked against the background of perestroika. These early experiments by Alexey Uchitel predetermined his shift to making features.

He always constructs the image scrupulously, looking for unconventional cutting, experimenting with sound. The reality of documentaries and the fantasy of features are closely intertwined in his films, and that combination brings about a unique style.

Alexey's feature directorial debut was "Giselle's Mania" shown at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival. The film received awards at international film festivals including Montreal, Cairo, Moscow and Cattolica.

Says Uchitel: "Above all I have always been interested in uncommon personalities. A11 of them had amazing life stories and I can say all of them were slightly insane. The film about ballet dancer Olga Spesivtseva was initially conceived as a documentary. She was alive at the time. But when she died we thought we should make it as a feature, even though I had never given thought to making features before. I always thought I was in the right place and never had any regrets about not making features. But this story touched a sore spot. I was aware that it would be extremely difficult to recreate it on the screen as a documentary.

"His Wife's Diary" is a film about solitude. That's what's most important. It may seem a paradox, but this topic is vital because a great number of people today are lonely. This state is present in this film. It's in the air. I wanted people to feel sympathy for every one of my protagonists. This is what I was trying to achieve. At the end of the day Bunin's only friend is his dog, with whom he shares his bed and to whom the writer reads his manuscripts at night."

Alexey Uchitel: Selected Filmography


"A Hundred Thousand Selves"

Documentary. Winner at the Kiev International Festival

"The Launch: Portrait of One Event"

Documentary. Winner at the International Festival in Leipzig



Documentary. Winner at the Krakow International Film Festival



Documentary. Diploma from the International Film Festival Forum in Berlin. Sundance.


"Mitkys in Europe"



"Obvodni Kanal"

Documentary. First prize at the Bornholm (Denmark) International Film Festival.


"The Last Hero"




Documentary. First prize, award for Best Directing and for Best Camera Work at the Open

Festival of Non-Fiction Films in Ekaterinburg.





"Giselle's Mania"

Feature. Main prize at the Honfleur Film Festival. Winner at the Misffest, Cattolica

Participation at the Montreal, Cairo, Cannes and Moscow Film Festivals.


"The Elite"

Documentary. Nominated for the Europe Prize, Germany. Input'99 Stuttgart. Participation

in the Amsterdam and New York film festivals.


"His Wife's Diary"

Feature. Second prize in the international screenwriting competition–the Hartley Merrill

Prize, USA. (Jury president, Robert Redford). Grand prix and award for actor's debut for

Elena Morosova at the Open Russian Film Festival. Russia's selection for the Motion

Picture Academy's Foreign Language Film category.

Dunya Smirnova

Dunya, daughter of "His Wife's Diary" star, Andrey Smirnov, has written three other screenplays for Alexey Uchitel - "Giselle's Mania" and the documentaries "Butterfly" and "The Last Hero."

She wrote "His Wife's Diary" specifically for her father. Because of this the depth of psychological penetration into Bunin's character is at times striking.

This film has brought Dunya Smirnova second prize at the Hartley-Merrill International Screenwriting Competition. The movie "8 1/2 Dollars", for which Dunya wrote dialogue, won the film critics' Golden Aries Award.

She was born in 1969.

Yuri Klimenko
Director of Photography

Works of Yuri Klimenko constitute the pride of Russian cinema. Among them are "Man Follows Birds," "Getting to Know the White Snows," "Tear Drop7" "The Legend of the Suram Fortress," "Anna Karamazov," "A Simple Death," "Chuzhaya, Belaya i Ryaboi," "Three Sisters," "Mu-mu" and "The Barracks." Klimenko's work has been honored at many festivals.

Leonid Desyatnikov

Today one of the most sought after Russian composers, Desyatnikov was born in Kharkov in 1955. He graduated from the St. Petersburg conservatory and a year later joined the Union of Composers.

He has written trendy, stylish music for Russian movies in recent years, including "The Dawn," "The Moscow Suburban Nights," "The Hammer and the Sickle," "Giselle's Mania" and "Prisoner of the Caucasus."

Leonid Desyatnikov's music is frequently performed at major European festivals and by leading orchestras.

Alexander Golutva

Alexander Golutva was born in Latvia in 1948 and graduated from the department of philosophy of Moscow State University. He taught philosophy at the Leningrad Institute of Electrical Engineering. He was chief editor of the screenplays committee with Lenfilm Studios and later became director of the same studio.

He became first deputy chairman of the State committee on film of the Russian Federation in 1997 and since February of 1999 has been its chairman. In the summer of 2000 he was named first deputy of the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation.

Alexander Golutva is a Merited Worker of Culture of Russia and was awarded the Order of Honor in 1998.

He received the Nika Prize for Best Feature Film for his "Peculiarities of National Hunting" in 1995. He was awarded the Best Producer Award in the Panorama competition in the Open Russian film festival for the films "Love is the Herald of Sorrow" and "Russian Symphony" in 1996. "His Wife's Diary" garnered the Grand Prix of the XIth Open Russian Film Festival.

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