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BIRDS OF PARADISE

Director: ROMAN BALAYAN

UKRAINE • 2008 • SUBTITLED • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 94 MIN


Birds of Paradise is set in the USSR of the early 1980s, a ‘period of stagnation’ director Roman Balayan knows very well and during which he made such brave, independent-minded works as Flights in Dreams and in Reality. Here the director replicates the moribund style of Soviet films of the late ’70s and early ’80s to provide an honest yet imaginative account of the difficulties facing creative people during a time of terrible repression. A young writer and his female companion are planning to escape to France by flying over the border like birds. The plan backfires when the KGB sends the writer to prison. Flying as a metaphor for freedom may sound a little hackneyed, but not so in Balayan’s hands. References to the paintings of Mark Chagall — a Russian artist who fled to Paris and whose paintings frequently depict people in flight — and The Master and Margarita — whose Ukrainian author Mikhail A. Bulgakov dreamed of going to Paris but never made it — add resonance to Balayan’s heartfelt musings on the relationship between creativity and freedom.

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