A rare screening of this bewitching and rarely screened Ukranian film-gem on its 50th anniversary, to mark the last day of Spring and the night of Ivan Kupalo.
The symbol of the holiday of Ivan Kupala is the fern, which is considered one of the most mysterious, magical plants. According to ancient Slavic folklore, the fern flower blooms once a year, for only a few moments on the eve of Ivan Kupala. It was believed that the flower would make one's most secret desires come true and bless the person who found it with many special abilities, such as the ability to understand the language of birds and animals, see into the future, become invisible, and easily find buried treasure. The Kupala night is the shortest in the year and no-one is supposed to sleep during this night for it is a charmed night. Trees walk from one place to another talking to each other through the rustle of their leaves; animals converse with each other as well, and even herbs are imbued with special, magical, miraculous power !
—Encyclopedia of Slavic mythology!
Adapted from the folk tales of Nikolai Gogol, in which a young man, Piotr, makes a deal with the satanic demon Basavriuk in order to achieve the wealth he will need to marry his beloved. THE EVE OF IVAN KUPALA is one of Soviet cinema’s greatest secrets; a film abounding in images of extraordinary strangeness and intoxicating potency. Director Yuri Ilyenko had already established himself at the head of Russia’s avant-garde by photographing Sergei Parajanov’s classic Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors. But this rarely seen masterpiece, with its bewildering and fantastical episodes, is a piece of arthouse legend.
"With imagery that makes Dali’s surrealism look like a kids’ colouring book—pig-riding demons, bleeding bread, slain children—and enough psychedelic colour washes to give Dario Argento a seizure, Soviet director Yuri Ilyenko’s The Eve of Ivan Kupalo left my mouth agape and my brain swirling." - AP Kryza, Willamette Week
The Eve of Ivan Kupalo/Vecher nakanune Ivana Kupala