Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen

Alexander Sokurov

Alexander Sokurov: The Early Works

Oberhausen presents the rarely shown early short films of Alexander Sokurov


He is one of the most important and influential filmmakers of our time. Alexander Sokurov has been producing award-winning documentaries and feature films since 1978; in 1990 he attracted international attention with Sovetskaja elegija (Soviet Elegy), for which he won the Grand Prize at Oberhausen; he won a second Grand Prize in 1996 for Vostotschnaja Elegija (Oriental Elegy), a Principal Prize in 1997 for Robert Scastlivaja Žizn (Robert. A Fortunate Life). Now the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen is offering a rare opportunity to see his extensive early short film oeuvre in a large-scale Profile programme, starting with the documentary Maria, the first part of which he shot in 1977. Alexander Sokurov will present his films in Oberhausen himself and give a master class for film students.


Alexander Sokurov has been developing his unmistakable film language over 40 years, both in his short films as well as in feature films such as Moloch (1999), Russian Ark (2002) or Faust (2011), for which he won the 2011 Golden Lion in Venice. In 2017 the European Film Academy honoured Sokurov with its Lifetime Achievement Award. His films are characterised by long shots, the virtuoso use of his own voice or the recurring use of found material. Committed to the great themes of life and living together, his films give real people an intense presence: the kolkhoz peasant Maria Voinova, the opera singer Fyodor Shalyapin, Boris Yeltsin, who stepped down as a candidate for the Politburo of the USSR, or the nameless sleeping soldier. Artistic and highly imaginative, he places his characters in larger contexts – family, contemporary history, society – and involves us in a slow process of recognition.




Alexander Sokurov was born as the son of an officer in 1951 in Podorvicha in the administrative district of Irkutsk. In 1968 he began studying history at the University of Gorki and worked as an assistant director for Gorki Television during his studies. At the age of 19 he produced his first documentary television programmes. In 1974 he completed his history studies in Gorki and in 1975 he began to study production at the Moscow VGIK (State Institute of Filmography), where he received an Eisenstein scholarship for outstanding achievements. He graduated from VGIK in 1979, though his film The Lonely Voice of a Man was not recognised as a graduation film because of "anti-Soviet views.” But he was supported by Andrei Tarkovsky, with whom he had a long friendship and who gave him a letter of recommendation for Lenfilm Studio, where Sokurov made his first feature film in 1980. At the same time he worked at the Leningrad Documentary Film Studio, where all his documentary films were made. Until the mid-1980s his films were not shown in public in the Soviet Union, which only changed with the loosening of censorship in the late 80's. He is currently founding his own film studio, Bereg.



The films (subject to change)

Maria, 1978–1988, 41 min.

Patience Labour, 1985–1987, 10 min.

The Degraded, 1980, 30 min

Elegy from Russia, 1992, 65 min.

Sonata for Hitler, 1979–1989, 11 min.

Soldier’s Sleep, 1995, 12 min.

Empire, 1986, 35 min.

Elegia (Elegy), 1986, 30 min.

Robert. A Fortunate Life, 1996, full version, 26 min.

Oriental Elegy, 1996, 45 min.

Soviet Elegy, 1989, 37 min.

Evening Sacifice, 1984–1987, 18 min.

An Example of Intonation, 1991, 48 min.

A Simple Elegy, 1990, 20 min.

Sonata for Hitler, 1979–1989, 11 min.



Spiritual Voices, 1995, 326 min.



Master Class Alexander Sokurov

(for film students, prior application only)

Freitag, 3. Mai, 14.30 – 19.30 Uhr



Accreditation deadline: 15 April 2019

Accreditation here.


A selection of high-resolution stills is available for download here.



Oberhausen, 20 March 2019



Press contact:

Sabine Niewalda, T +49 (0)208 825-3073,