The First Teacher

The first film of Andron Mikhailkov-Konchalovsky, The First Teacher is also one of the first masterworks of what could be called the post-Socialist Realist New Soviet Cinema, a school of young filmmakers who recognize each other in the Soviet Union by virtue of a common commitment to treating controversial themes from the past (like The First Teacher, which spares no illusions in showing the hardships and hostility encountered by a naive young cadre trying to break reactionary family and caste patterns in a rural Asian locale), everyday themes from the present, and by their modern, hard-edged, anti-sentimental approaches to dramatic subject matter. Like other debut films of the new generation of Soviet film directors, The First Teacher was produced in the Khirghiz film studio in Central Asia, where the noted author Chinghiz Aitnatov supervises the film adaptations of his short stories and novels, and encourages young directors from outside Khirghizia as well as from his native Republic to work in a climate free of heavy studio overhead and administrative interference. The First Teacher was never released in this country, but it was a great critical success in Paris, where one critic hailed it as “an indisputable masterpiece.”

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