Karen Shakhnazarov


One of today’s most important Russian filmmakers is honoured at the 32nd edition of Fantasporto. The screenwriter, producer and director Karen Shakhnazarov is also the director of Russia's largest movie studio - Mosfilm.
In 2010 he was awarded in Fantasporto for the film "Ward Number 6", which shows us how easy it is to become what we most fear. Now, the Porto International Film Festival pays
Shakhnazarov a due homage presenting a collection of films chosen by the director himself.


Karen Georgievich Shakhnazarov was born on July 8, 1952, in Krasnodar, Russia. As a child he had a passion for both painting and cinema. At the end it was the Seventh Art that took the upper hand. Between 1969 and 1975 he studied at the 'Film Direction Faculty ", having Igor Talankin as his main mentor. In the meantime he began working as a production assistant and in 1975 came his first film: "Shire Shag: Maestro" (Step Wide, Maestro) - his graduation work. The first feature film came out in 1979 - "Dobryaki" (Kind Men) - collecting awards in European film festivals. Until today he’s made fifteen movies, writing the screenplays for many of them.


The film that brought worldwide recognition to Shakhanazarov was "We're From Jazz", a musical starring Igor Sklyar, about the difficulties of implementing this type of music in the USSR of the 1920s. The movie was considered by many critics as the best film of the year (1983). A year later Shakhanazarov joined "Mosfilm Studio" which he runs since 1998. The Mosfilm studios are the biggest film studios in Europe and have in its collection the timeless Russian classics from men like Tarkovsky and Eisenstein.
With his next film "Kurier" (The Messenger Boy) from 1987, Shakhnazarov managed to paint a vivid picture of the life of young people who grew up at the end of the "era of stagnation”, and their strange relationships.


Karen Shakhnazarov’s filmography is diverse. The dramatic films top the preference of the author, but they all have bits and pieces of fantasy that sets them apart from the usual movie genre. A good example is "Gorod Zero" (Zero City) from 1988 with Leonid Filatov in the main role.
In the historical novel Tsareubiytsa (Assassin) from 1991, Shakhnazarov tells the tragic story of Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia, and his family. Oleg Yankovsky and Malcolm McDowell are the protagonists.
In 1998 he released what many think is his masterpiece - "Den polnoluniya" (Day of the Full Moon) – that has a peculiar narrative style. The reality is intertwined with romantic memories, creating a poetic journey in time and space.

"Poisons or World History of Poisoning" is another one not to miss, a black comedy about the most secret desires of every single one of us. "The Rider Named Death" from 2004 concentrates on the issue of terrorism in the late XX century and "The Vanished Empire" is a nostalgic film about the Russian youth of the 1970s.
His most recent film, "Ward Number 6" (2009), won the Special Prize from the Jury of Directors Week at Fantasporto 2010. Based on a short story by Chekhov, "Ward No. 6" tells the story of a psychiatrist who becomes a patient in the asylum that he once supervised. Adapted to the present day Russia, the film is a mixture of anxiety and mystery, showing how easy it is to become what we fear the most.

Retrospective of films at Fantasporto 2012


Zero City- 1988

Assasin – 1991

Day of Full Moon -1998

Poisons or World History of Poisoning -2000

The Rider Named Death- 2004

The Vanished Empire - 2008

Ward Number 6 – 2009