Animation and Dance Retrospective
The documentary film re-writes the history of world animation by telling the story of Alexander Shiryaev (1867-1941), one of the first ballet filmmakers who began his experiments in the 1900s. Shiryaev was a distinguished character dancer of Mariinsky Theatre, and a rehearsal director to Marius Petipa as well as the author of the world’s first technique of teaching the character dance. Among his cinematographic experiments are documentaries, dance and play miniatures, drawn and puppet animations.
Viktor Bocharov is a St Petersburg film producer, director, and an outstanding authority on ballet and opera. He acquired the Shiryaev archive from the photographer Daniil Saveliev in 1995. The first restorations of the 17.5mm positive prints were carried out by David Cleveland of the East Anglian Film Archive, while the 35mm material was transferred onto digital media in London. Using this material, along with photographs and other documents, Bocharov directed this documentary account of Shiryaev’s life, where he places him into the context of the emergence of cinema and in the framework of ballet history. Including practically all of Shiryaev’s animation work, A Belated Premiere was first shown at a festival of the Russian State Film Archive, Gosfilmofond, in January 2004, where it appeared to reverse the history of Russian cinema and of puppet animation, which had considered Ladislaw Starewicz to be the world’s first puppet animator. A Belated Premiere is, in Bocharov’s own words, a research publication of some material from Shiryaev’s legacy.
Screening courtesy of Viktor Bocharov, Birgit Beumers and Tom Vincent at Aardman Animation.