All Soviet cinematography existed in the same atmosphere and within same limits except for Leningrad. The formation of Ilya Averbakh as director was inspired primarily by the city’s stately architecture, the sharp psychological literature, forefront trends in painting. One should mention his keen interest in music and ability to draw upon the world of the old St.-Petersburg intelligentzia. Studying in the Leningrad Medical Institute (which Averbakh graduated in 1958) was merely a small part of his life. While still a student, he started writing poems and short novels. Averbakh soon started being published, though, much to his regret, only as journalist. These publications later served him a good turn: they were received as credit at his admission to the Higher Scenery Courses at the USSR State Committee on Cinematography in Moscow (E. I. Gabrilovich’s class). After graduation from the course (1964) Aberbakh has been accepted to the Higher Courses for Cinema Directors (Mikhail Kozintsev’s class) in Leningrad.

Ilya Averbakh’s first work as cinema director in 1968 was his cinema novelette, “Daddy”. His first full-length film, “Measure of Risk“ after N. Amosov’s book “Thoughts and Heart“, was released in 1969. The following films continued within the course of his contemplation of man: “A Drama from Old Times’ Life“ (1971), “Monologue“ (1972), “Someone Else’s Letters“ (1975), “Declaration of Love“ (1978), “Faryatyev’s Fantasies“ (1979), “Voice“ (1982), “On the Fascinating Banks of Neva“ (1983). For many years Ilya Averbakh ideated to direct a film after Mikhail Bulgakov’s “White Guard“, but this plan was not destined to be realized. In 1985 Ilya Averbakh was struck by a severe and incurable disease, and in early 1986 he passed away.

In the memories of the people who knew him he remains one of the most intelligent, well-educated and decent people. Many remember and miss his apalling sense of humor and rare charm.

Mikhail Petrov, outstanding physical scientist and Ilya Averbakh’s close friend, remembers:

“One more circumstance that individuated Averbakh was him being a gentleman. It was something not always common to young Bohemians of that time. Their talents were abundant while decency of manners declined at times catastrophically. It was common to not return money debts (small ones, which were, as a matter of fact, the only ones) or to have a meal at a restaurant on someone else’s account. In short, the freedom that occurred out of clear blue turned not only liberty of manners but one of everyday life norms as well. And, of course, manners were rather horrible.

This is where Averbakh was radically different from his environment. His manners, especially with ladies, were impeccable and even somewhat theatrical. He liked to call the young ladies he was acquainted with, by full name. He would graciously kiss their hand, open doors before them, help them put on their mantels, fasten their boots. With all his rather limited financial resources at the time, he was extremely scrupulous, decent and generous. These qualities of his were perceived as some kind of eccentricity, something like a light madness“. (Averbakh Phenomenon, Zvezda. № 1, 2006)

Eyba Norkute

This exhibition became possible with the help of D. A. Dolinin who provided materials.

Venue: House of Cinema (Dom Kino), 12 Karavannaya st.