Russian region pays $2.4 million for Tarkovsky archive

Wed Nov 28, 2012 1:02pm EST
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Russia's Ivanovo region on Wednesday paid 1.5 million pounds ($2.4 million), or 15 times the estimate, for an archive of thousands of letters, photographs and recordings once belonging to leading film director Andrei Tarkovsky.

Tarkovsky, who was born in the region in 1932, is considered one of Russia's greatest film makers, directing acclaimed movies including "Andrei Rublyev", "Solaris" and "The Mirror".

Sotheby's, which auctioned the archive in London, said the sale followed a "dramatic 18-minute bidding battle" that ended up between three bidders. The collection had been expected to fetch 80-100,000 pounds.

"The archive was purchased at the initiative of the government of the Ivanovo Region in order to preserve the heritage of a genius film director in his homeland, the city of Yurevets in Russia," read a statement issued by Sotheby's.

"The archive will be placed on public view in the Tarkovsky memorial house museum in the Ivanovo Region.

"It will become a welcome addition for visitors of the museum as well as for guests and participants of the annual International film festival of A.Tarkovsky called The Mirror."

The archive covers the last 20 years of the film maker's life and includes the draft of a letter to Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev from the late 1970s urging him to lift a ban on screenings of his 1966 classic Andrei Rublyev.

The letter underlines the director's prolonged tussle with Soviet authorities over censorship which eventually convinced Tarkovsky to leave his native country and spend the last four years of his life in exile.   Continued...