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Grandiose open-air cinema performance – “Cossacks” (1928) on the Potemkin Steps during the 10th Odesa International Film Fest

Grandiose open-air cinema performance – “Cossacks” (1928) on the Potemkin Steps during the 10th Odesa International Film Festival


At this year’s 10th Odesa International Film Festival, on the Potemkin Steps, a legendary film “Cossacks” by MGM will be shown, accompanied by a symphony orchestra


Every year at the Odesa International Film Festival, tens of thousands of spectators gather on the legendary Potemkin Steps and enjoy a unique performance - an open-air film screening. Traditionally taking place on the second day of the festival, the event showcases world masterpieces of silent cinema, accompanied by a symphony orchestra. This year, OIFF will treat the viewers to the American drama film “Cossacks” (1928, directed by George W. Hill and Clarence Brown), produced by the famous Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studio, which is known to lovers of good cinema for their huge projects “2001: Space Odyssey” (directed by Stanley Kubrick), “Ben-Hur” (directed by William Wyler), “The Wizard of Oz” (directed by Victor Fleming) and others.


The main character of the film “Cossacks” is the Otaman’s son Lukashka. He does not want to follow the unwavering rule of “the man must fight, and the woman must work”, and refuses to take part in the war. His pacifist views only lead to constant jokes from his buddies and a near break up with his beloved. In the end, Lukashka becomes the most ferocious soldier of them all, and fights against the Turks by his father’s side.

For this film, MGM built a massive Cossack village in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, and brought in over 100 real Cossacks. The authenticity of costumes and everyday life, epic battle scenes with well-performed stunts, picturesque locations – all this creates a special atmosphere in the film and impresses with its scale.


The main roles in the film were performed by John Gilbert and Renée Adorée – costars in King Vidor’s melodrama “The Great Military Parade” (1925). The film also stars such silent cinema actors as Niels Aster, Ernest Torrens, Paul Hurst, and Dale Fuller.


The live music has been arranged and will be conducted by composer Robert Israel, who worked on the musical accompaniment of many classic silent films. His filmography includes “Dr. Jack”, “The Freshman”, “Girl Shy” and “For Heaven’s Sake” by Harold Lloyd, “The Adventurer” by Charlie Chaplin, “The Navigator” by Buster Keaton, “Wheel” by Abel Hans and others. While composing the score for the film “Cossacks”, the composer adapted and arranged classical Ukrainian music, including the works by Mykola Lysenko, Kyrylo Stetsenko, Semen Hulak-Artemovsky, as well as traditional folk songs.


It is a pleasure for me to present this particular program, because, in these times, there is nothing better than showcasing our rich historical culture and heritage. Also, my grandfather was born in Odesa, so I feel connected with my Central European roots, despite the fact that I have not been to Ukraine yet”, said Robert Israel, who currently lives in the Czech Republic.


In previous years, the atmospheric open-air film screenings on the Potemkin Steps by the Odesa Film Festival presented films that are rightly called the classics of silent cinema: “City Lights” by Charlie Chaplin, “Blackmail” by Alfred Hitchcock, “Metropolis” by Fritz Lang, “Sherlock Holmes” by Arthur Berthelet, “Safety Last!” with Harold Lloyd in the lead role, Sergei Eisenstein’s “Battleship Potemkin”, “Sunrise” by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, “The Ladies’ Paradise” by Julien Duvivier, “Man with a Movie Camera” by Dziga Vertov. Also, with the assistance of OIFF, on July 11, 2015, the memorial sign of the European Film Academy was unveiled, which secured the title of “Treasure of European Cinema Culture” for the Potemkin Steps.


The 10th Odesa International Film Festival will take place from 12 to 20 of July.

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