Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Congratulations to Alexander Mitta on his 80th birthday

Alexander Naumovich Mitta celebrated his 80th birthday on the 28th of March 2013. The Russian cartoonist, screenwriter and film director was born in Moscow, in 1933. He first studied engineering, graduating in 1955, then worked as a cartoonist in art and humorous magazines, for example the satirical journal "Crocodile."

by Olivia Kroth

In 1960, Alexander Naumovich Mitta graduated in film directing at VGIK, the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography in Moscow. This institute was founded in 1919. It is the oldest film school worldwide. In 2008, it became a university. 

Alexander Naumovich Mitta directed many Soviet and Russian films, from the 1960s until 2010. "Moscow, my love" is a Soviet-Japanese love drama, filmed by Alexander Naumovich Mitta, produced by Mosfilm, in 1974. 

A young Japanese ballet dancer from Hiroshima is studying at the Bolshoi Ballet School in Moscow, where she falls in love with a Russian sculptor. When she dances her first role in the ballet "Giselle," she breaks down on stage.

The doctors find out that she has developed a cancer, due to radiation in Hiroshima. In hospital she turns blind, not recognizing the sculptor anymore, who comes to visit her daily. The Japanese ballet dancer dies young in Moscow.

Some scenes of this film were taken in Hiroshima, others in Moscow with the original Bolshoi Ballet. The Japanese actress, Komaki Kurihara, portrayed the ballet dancer, while Oleg Widow played the Russian sculptor.

Another internationally renowned film, directed by Alexander Naumovich Mitta, is "Air Crew," produced by Mosfilm, in 1979. The audience is first introduced to the personal lives of the aircrew of a TU-156 Aeroflot Tupolev, en route to a destination in the Caucasus. 

Towards the end, the movie builds up tension as the aircraft approaches the airfield, which has been damaged shortly before by an earthquake. The pilots, however, manage to land the plane safely, thus saving all of the passengers' lives. This film was watched by 70 million viewers.

Alexander Naumovich Mitta received many awards, medals and prizes for his lifetime work, for example the Film Prize of the Moscow Komsomol, in 1966; the Silver Medal for Children's Films at the 8th International Moscow Film Festival, in 1972; the Prize of the Lenin Komsomol, in 1972; an award at the All-Union Film Festival in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan, in 1973; another award at the All-Union Film Festival in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in 1980; the Russian State Prize, in 2002.

President Vladimir Putin awarded Alexander Mitta the title People's Artist of Russia, in 2004. The film director also received the Order of Merit for the Fatherland, 4th class, in 2008. For his 80th birthday, President Vladimir Putin sent a congratulatory message to Alexander Naumovich Mitta:

"A talented and enthusiastic man, you have tackled the professions of director, screenwriter and actor with equal enthusiasm and reached the heights of true mastery. Creative expertise, profound knowledge of human nature and the artist's perspective have helped you to create films that have become classics, not only of Russian, but of world cinema."

Best wishes to Alexander Naumovich Mitta on his 80th birthday, and many happy returns!     

Prepared for publication by:

Lisa Karpova