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Vytautas Zalakevicius Poster

Biography

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Overview (3)

Born in Kaunas, Lithuania
Died in Vilnius, Lithuania
Birth NamePrano Vytautas Zalakevicius

Mini Bio (1)

Vytautas Zalakevicius was a notable Lithuanian director, best known for his film Niekas nenorejo mirti (1966).

He was born Vytautas Prano Zalakevicius on April 14, 1930, in Kaunas, Lithuania. From 1948-1950 he studied to become an engineer at the Kaunas State University. He then went to Moscow and studied directing at the Soviet State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK). His teachers were Mikheil Chiaureli and Grigoriy Aleksandrov. Zalakevivius was able to develop his own highly original style during the political changes in the Soviet Union after the death of Joseph Stalin. At that time many intellectuals expressed their new ideas, because Nikita Khrushchev initiated the policy of openness and de-Stalinization known as the Khrushchev's Thaw. Zalakevicius graduated from VGIK in 1956 as director, making his first short film 'Skenduolis' (Drowned 1956) as his graduation work.

His first independent full-length feature film was 'Adomas nori buti zmogumi' (Adam Wants to Be a Man 1959). It immediately became a sensation. Zalakevicius demonstrated his experimental approach as a writer-director and achieved an uncommon result. His work with such actors, as Donatas Banionis and Juozas Miltinis brought him his first big success. His best known film was 'Niekas nenorejo mirti' (Nobody Wanted to Die 1965) starring Donatas Banionis, Regimantas Adomaitis, Vija Artmane, Juozas Budraitis, Algimantas Masiulis and other Lithuanian actors. Zalakevicius made a powerful film, it was even dubbed the "Lithuanian Seven Samurai." It shows dramatic events in a small Lithuanian farming community, where people are split between the Soviets and the "brothers in the woods", who are fighting to defend their land from the Soviets after the end of the Second World War.

Zalakevicius was the winner of the 1973 Gold Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival for 'Eto sladkoe slovo: Svoboda!' (That Sweet Word: Liberty! 1973). But the film caused a mixed reaction, being just a mere political propaganda of the Chilean revolution. From 1974-1980, Zalakevicius worked at the Mosfilm Studios in Moscow. His Moscow period was less productive and he eventually returned to Lithuania. During the 1980s and 1990s, Zalakevicius was up to the challenges of the unstable and turbulent years during and after the collapse of the Soviet Union. His later career was devoted to establishing of the newly independent Lithuanian film industry. His last work was a screenplay for 'Elze's Life' (2000), a period film about the history of Lithuanian and German relationship, directed by his student, Algimantas Puipa. It was an artistic effort of reconciliation with the national identity, and partition from the Soviet past. Zalakevicius was one of the most provocative and controversial figures in the Lithuanian film. He usually wrote the screenplays for most of his films. He occasionally did television work as well.

Vytautas Zalakevicius was honored with titles of People's Artist of the Lithuanian Republic (1981) and People's Artist of Russia (1980). He was artistic Director of Lithuanian Film Studio, and Vice-Chairman of the Lithuanian State Committee for Cinematography. He also taught film directing in Moscow and in Vilnius, and several of his students became established filmmakers. Vytautas Zalakevicius was married to Russian actress Irina Miroshnichenko. He died of natural causes on November 12, 1996, in Vilnius, and was laid to rest in Vilnius, Luthuania.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

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