One of the most talented Soviet directors from the "New Wave" generation of the early sixties, Mikhailkov-Konchalovsky comes from notable, indeed noble artists. His great-grandfather is important 19th-century realist painter Surikov; his grandfather the well-known impressionist artist Pyotr Konchalovsky; and his father is Sergei Mikhailkov, poet, children's writer, and high official of the writers' union. Andron Mikhailkov-Konchalovsky studied piano for years, then switched to film school, where he studied with Mikhail Romm before graduating in 1961. His student short, Violin and Roller (1959), gained attention at Festivals; it was co-directed by Andrei Tarkovsky for whom Mikhailkov-Konchalovsky later scripted Andrei Rublev (1966), generally hailed as the greatest Soviet film since Eisenstein. Mikhailkov-Konchalovsky's first feature, The First Teacher (1965) was an astonishing debut. Filmed in the studios of Khirghizia, where the noted author Chinghis Aitmatov presides over cultural matters with unusual imagination, The First Teacher spares no illusions in depicting the hardships and hostilities encountered by a naive Red Army cadre trying to break reactionary family and caste patters in a rural Asian locale. This was followed by the even more daring Asya's Happiness (1966), perhaps the most violently "realistic" portrait of contemporary collective farm life ever made in the U.S.S.R.: it was immediately banned, and in 1969 appeared briefly in an edited version. Unable to continue in this controversial direction, Mikhailkov-Konchalovsky turned to the classics of Russian literature. His beautiful adaptation of Turgenev's "Nest of Gentlefolk" appeared in 1969; and in 1971 came his exceptionally successful version of Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya."
Most recently, Konchalovsky has tried his hand at large-scale superproductions. His Romance of Lovers (1974) was surprisingly frank in matters of sex and nudity, and in its 70mm format remains one of the most spectacular "love stories" ever filmed. From 1976 to 1979, Konchalovsky worked on his vast epic on Siberia - past, present and future - Siberiade, which was finally premiered in a 3-1/2-hour version at the Cannes Film Festival in 1979, where it was awarded the Special Jury Prize. Ironically, Mikhailkov-Konchalovsky is possibly best known in this country as the author of the screenplay for The Slave of Love, directed by his brother, Nikita Mikhailkov, and a relative smash hit for an art film in this country, both critically and with audiences. Mikhailkov-Konchalovsky has appeared several times at PFA in past years, but never for such a systematic exploration of his work as we plan to present in early October. With Otar Ioseliani and Andrei Tarkovsky, there is no doubt that Andron Mikhailkov-Konchalovsky is one of the leading artists of contemporary Soviet cinema.