Rerberg And Tarkovsky, The Reverse Side Of ‘stalker’

Igor Maiboroda

Russia, 2009.

This creative documentary tells the remarkable story behind the making of Stalker, including the series of conflicts which led to crew members, most notably celebrated director of photography Georgi Rerberg, being left off the credits, leaving careers in tatters. Far from your standard making of doc, Director Igor Mayboroda has woven an engrossing “documentary cinema novel” which not only stands as a tribute to Rerberg’s career but also as a delight for cinephiles interested in how the creative process can flourish even under the most difficult and ultimately devastating of circumstances.

At the Sheffield Doc/Fest in the UK this past fall, there was a small programme of challenging Russian documentaries called “Russian Focus: Stories from the Age of the New Soviet.” Most of these pretty much ignored the exigencies of the increasingly popular world of crossplatform, installation and online digital forms of storytelling, and instead offered lush, lingering explorations, in both short- and long-form, of disparate people figuring out what it means to be Russian twenty years after the fall of the USSR. These films were from Russia, of course (Tsirk, Two Highways, Until the Next Resurrection), but also from France (Cinetrain), the UK (How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin, Caught in the Mist), and Germany (Pink Taxi).

The tour-de-force piece of the programme was directed and co-produced by Russian filmmaker Igor Maiboroda and sat in a category of its own, a self-proclaimed “documentary cinema novel.” The 35 mm, 140-minute documentary (there is, according to the director, a six-hour version in the works) tells the remarkable story behind the making of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker. It includes the series of conflicts that led to many key members of the crew, most notably celebrated director of photography, Georgy Ivanovich Rerberg, being left off the credits entirely. Maiboroda’s film not only stands as a tribute to Rerberg’s career and his famous family’s legacy, but also as an in-depth post-mortem soap opera, many years on, about the twisted and drama-filled creative process of making the cinematic masterpiece that is Stalker.

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