February 25, 2014

Alexey Balabanov Would Have Turned 55 Today

Alexey Balabanov is a name synonymous with unequivocally high-quality films. He was one of the key film directors of our time. On February 25, Alexey would have turned 55.

Producer Sergey Selyanov, Balabanov’s closest friend, had this to say about his untimely death: “A Russian genius is gone. He was truly a person of light, even though it might seem odd to some people. A good friend.”

Alexey Balabanov was born on February 25, 1959 in Sverdlovsk, Russia. He graduated from the Department of Translation of the Gorki Pedagogical Institute of Foreign Languages. He began working in the film industry as an assistant director at Sverdlovsk Film Studios. In 1990 he finished the Department of Film Direction at the Advanced Program for Directors and Screenplay Writers. From 1991 until his death Alexey Balabanov resided and worked in St. Petersburg.

Balabanov’s big breakthrough in the world of cinema happened in 1991 with the film Happy Days, based on the play of the same name by Samuel Beckett. From 1985 to 2012, in the role of director, screenplay writer, and producer, Balabanov created the following motion pictures: Times Were Different Back Then (Ranshe bylo drugoe vremya), I Have No Friends (U menya net druga), Nastya and Yegor (Nastya i Yegor), On Flying in the Air in Russia (O vozdushnom letanii v Rossii), Happy Days (Schastlivye dni), A Conflict at the Border (Pogranichny konflikt), The Castle (Zamok), Confessions to a Stranger (Otkroveniya neznakomtsu), Trofim, Sergei Eisenstein: An Autobiography (Sergei Eizenshtein. Avtobiografiya), Brother (Brat), Of Freaks and Men (Pro urodov i ludey), Brother 2 (Brat 2), The River (Reka), Blind Man’s Buff (Zhmurki), It Does’t Hurt (Mne ne bolno), Cargo 200 (Gruz 200), Morphine (Morfiy), The Stoker (Kochegar), and Me Too (Ya tozhe khochu).

In his last film, Me Too, which was released in theaters in 2012, Alexey Balabanov made a cameo appearance. He played a film director who, along with the rest of the film’s characters, is looking for the Belfry of Joy. Alexey Balabanov’s character dies in the film.

“We are all bound to die,” Balabanov said back then, “and that’s natural.”

In an interview in the same year, when asked if he had a life motto, Balabanov said, “I don’t have a motto . . . You just need to love the people who are close to you. That’s all.”