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Its been 100 years since the documentary filmmaker Efim Uchitel’s was born


One of his most famous works is the film about the northern capital’s defense from the Nazis - «Leningrad in a struggle». After the end of the War, it was shown as one of the convictive materials at the Nurnberg trial for Nazi war criminals.

In spite of his surname – which means «a teacher» in Russian – Efim Uchitel had never taught. But those were his works which became the foundation of what is now called «the Leningrad school of non-fictional movies».

These shots are considered as classics of the Russian film chronic and documentaries. And Efim Uchitel could be considered the city’s prime representative. It shows even in the names of his camera and directing works – 8 of them have the word «Leningrad» in it. 

He was born on the banks of the Dniester River, but he came to live and study into the city on the Neva River. He survived the hardest time for Leningrad – the blockade. When the film studio was closed, cameramen decided against forfeiting their cameras. Just like many of his colleagues, Uchitel strolled through the city – barely managing to move his feet – and filmed. Here’s the legendary and shocking shot where a famished man is dying by the fence of the Letniy garden. 

Uchitel not only showed the shots of cold and famished St. Petersburg – which are destructive in their despair – but also how the besieged city was united in fighting the invasion. 

Alexey Uhitel, director, son of Efim Uchitel: «The blockade and the war as a whole greatly influenced my dad. He was still young then and found himself in this critical situation. That formed him». 

At the «Lenkinokhronika» studio, where Uchitel had brought up several generations of documentary filmmakers, everyone knew of his peculiarity – do not act as a teacher. Efim Yulyevich never raised his voice and allowed colleagues to realize their own vision, creating the chronicles of the native town, jumping away from the existing standards. 

Mikhail Litvyakov, director: «He never gave a slightest opportunity to be harsh to the young ones. The old ones understood - this was done by the youths – and he protected them». 

Efim Uchitel produced more than 50 documentaries and never stopped working until his last days.