«Jewish Observer»
December 2002
5763 Tevet

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There are lives and fates comparable in their significance to epoch-making landmarks in country's history (revolutions, wars, global calamities changing the face of the history)... There is an over 90-year-long life, a biography to have been included into all cinema encyclopedias... This all is about a most famous Odessa cinematographer, winner of numerous international film festivals, merited artist of Ukraine and Tadzhikistan Grigory Koltunov, who is from now commemorated at the Odessa film studio. A plaque is opened here not by chance - alongside with a materialized memory of Alexandre Dovzhenko, Vasily Shukshin, Vladimir Vysotsky...

The way to cinema for Grigory Koltunov began namely here, at the Odessa film factory. It was in 1934 when he, a musician by education (young Koltunov was a mute at the Odessa opera theatre), working then in Donbass, became a participant of the Republican contest for the best script. He sent his first work - "Mistake of Lena Okuneva" - and took the first place. Then he returned to his native Odessa to dedicate decades of his life to the cinematograph.

Before the Great Patriotic war father had worked at the Odessa studio, - tells Koltunov's daughter Yelena. - After the war he became a permanent member of its art council, wrote scenarios, took part in some pictures as a director. Geography of his films embraces the entire Soviet Union. And they toured around the entire world...

Is there any film by your father's script you prefer most of all?

Well, my favorite is an old black-and-white "Green van" with famous Tarapunka (Timoshenko) as Grishchenko. This is an absolutely charming film. I am also much fond of a trilogy after Firdousi, written in verses. It seems to me, these verses convey father's world outlook, his credo...

All in all, there are about 40 films made after Grigory Koltunov's scripts. Among them: "Maksimka" and "Blue roads", "ChePe" and "Adder", "Unmailed letter" and "Shah Name"... A most memorable victory for both Grigory Yakovlevich and entire Soviet cinema became the picture "Forty first". The script written by Koltunov received a special jury prize at the famous Cannes film festival. This and many other things were in the focus of attention of participants to a solemn ceremony held at the Odessa film studio - representatives of the mayor office, colleagues and friends. They recalled about joint work, about films, which had became an integral part of the history of home cinema, about Koltunov as a wonderful teller. Already in Koltunov's last years his nearest convinced him to write down, at least, part of his recollections. And he wrote a book to include short stories, a novel... This is a continuation of a long-long life that doesn't end even when a man passes away...


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