Screened as part of NZIFF 2021

Brief Encounters 1967

Korotkie vstrechi

Directed by Kira Muratova

The great Soviet-Russian director Kira Muratova holds special significance in Bill Gosden’s programming history.

Viewing hundreds of films a year for consideration, it took a certain something to render him speechless. He wrote – or at least, attempted to – of Muratova’s Brief Encounters in 1991: “No other film has seemed to me to elude description so tantalisingly... with every sentence I put down, some new, ironic angle on a scene or a character would come to taunt my prose – and lift my spirits. Maybe movies never seem so worth recommending as when you’re stumped and emotional and reaching for metaphors from music and words like affecting and deeply and ineffable”.

USSR In Russian with English subtitles
96 minutes DCP



Nina Ruslanova
Vladimir Vysotskiy
Kira Muratova
Lidiia Bazylska
Olga Viklandt
Aleksei Glazyrin


Kira Muratova
Leonid Zhukhovitsky


Hennadii Kariuk


O Kharakova


Oleg Karavaychuk


Auckland, Wellington 1991


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Nidia, a gauche, pretty, young country-girl waitressing in a roadside canteen, falls in love with Maxim, an itinerant geologist with the dark flashing eyes and romantic elusiveness of a gypsy. Smitten, she quits the job and follows him to the city. There she finds work as a maid in the home of the intriguing Valentina – who is also in love with Maxim.

Muratova explores the intricate triangular relationship of these three striking individuals with clarity, tenderness and irony... A beautifully organised, associative time-structure heightens the poignance of the relationship which assumes the least importance to the characters, but takes on the most importance to us: the uneasy contract between Nidia and Valentina.

Muratova herself plays Valentina. Her performance is a marvel in its full, clearly delineated portrait of a rich and complex character.

Valentina is a bright, energetic woman of the world... She seems driven in her career by what elsewhere might be considered liberal idealism... [and] finds the banal world of the majority of her sex completely boring... Much of the pointed poignance of the film lies in our perceiving how much she may in fact owe to that homely world – and vice versa.

There’s not the space to catalogue the felicities in the direction of this extraordinary first film. The cinematography is crisp, beautiful, and for 1967, daringly, but expressively, unconventional. There are brief encounters with a dozen other characters who register with singular vividness. The 20 years it was banned by Soviet censors could not diminish the originality of this exquisite film. It has become an instant classic. — Bill Gosden