IDFA: Fragile Memory

Igor Ivanko
Ukraine, Slovakia
Ukranian, Russian, Polis

Igor Ivanko discovers piles of old negatives at the dacha belonging to his grandfather Leonid Burlaka, a successful cameraman in the heyday of the Soviet studios. Igor, himself a Ukrainian filmmaker, gets this private collection printed and attempts to restore the images digitally. They form a document of the life of Burlaka, who from 1964 to 1999 made 30 features for Odessa Film Studio, a major producer in the glory years of Soviet cinema.

At the kitchen table, Ivanko puts questions to his now-retired grandfather: What was it like to make films in those days? How much freedom did he have, artistically and in his private life? In many cases, these and other questions remain unanswered, because Burlaka has Alzheimer’s and his memory is deteriorating quickly. 

This prompts Ivanko to dive into the archives, search for his grandfather’s former colleagues, and talk with his grandmother about the past. He hopes that this blend of warm confrontation, clips of Burlaka’s work, and especially his now-decaying private archive will enable him, in the nick of time, to resurrect the personal stories from behind the Iron Curtain.