“I watched Cranes are Flying, and, impressed by what I have seen, I realised that I want to make films” – Gleb Panfilov
Gleb Anatolievich Panfilov was born on 21st of May 1934 in Magnitogorsk into a family of Anatoly Petrovich and Vera Stepanovna Panfilovs.
After graduating with a degree in chemistry from Ural Polytechnic University in 1957, Panfilov works as a foreman at a Sverdlov factory of medical equipment, as a researcher at the Research and Development Establishment, he was also the head of propaganda department of Sverdlov city committee. By the end of 1950’s Panfilov organises an amateur film studio, where together with his friends he produces several short films — Little Nylon Jacket, National Militia (1958). Soon he is invited to work for the local TV channel, and there Panfilov makes his next four films — Regain our Ranks (1959, documentary short film), Killed at War, Nina Melovisinova (both 1962 short film) and The Case of Kurt Clausewitz (1963 feature length TV film)
In 1960 Gleb Panfilov enrols on a correspondence course of cinematography at VGIK (All Union State Institute of Cinema). After graduating in 1963, he immediately enrols on the directing course at the same institute.
Obtaining a diploma of a film director in 1966, Panfilov is hired by the Lenfilm film studios in St.Petersburg (former Leningrad), where he begins developing his first feature film No Path through Fire (1967). The film, which portrays the Russian Civil War in a non-canonical fashion, introduces two significant artists – Gleb Panfilov, the director,and Inna Churikova, his leading actress. In 1969 No Path through Fire receives a prize at the Locarno International Film Festival (Switzerland)
In 1970 Panfilov directs a second feature film The Beginning, which starred the magnificent Inna Churikova. The story of Praskovia Stroganova, a weaver in a provincial town, unhappy in love, who by chance is cast to play the lead role in a film about Joan of Arch, has evoked admiration from critics and audiences alike. In 1971 the film is awarded a Silver Lion at the International Film Festival in Venice.
The following feature I wish to Speak (1975) presents another strong female character,brilliantly embodied by Churikova. The film receives prizes from IFF in Karlovy Vary (1976) and IFF in Barcelona (1977).
In 1977 Gleb Panfilov begins to work for Mosfilm studios (Moscow) and starts teaching at the Higher Courses of Film Directing.
The Theme, the fist film made by Panfilov at Mosfilm in 1979, which touches upon the subject matter of immigration, is shelved by the officials up until 1987. Once the film is released internationally, it is immediately selected for the number of film festivals and is awarded the “Golden Lion” at the Berlin IFF.
In 1981, while The Theme is still banned, Panfilov films an adaptation of a stage play ‘Last Summer in Chulimsk’ by Alexander Vampilov. Film Valentina tells a moving story about a young woman from a provincial town, and features a magnificent cast – Inna Churikova, Daria Mihkailova,Rodion Nakhapetov, Vsevolod Shilovsky.
The 1983 feature Vassa presents a completely different interpretation of the classic Gorky play‘Vassa Zheleznova’, the film is awarded a number of prizes,including the Grand Prix of Moscow IFF in 1983.
1986 sees the debut of Gleb Panfilov as a theatre director. His production of Hamlet demonstrates the originality of approach to a Shakespearian classic and it involves the leading actors of “Lenkom” theatre – Oleg Jankovsky (Hamlet), Inna Churikova (Gertrude), Alexandra Zakharova (Ophelia)
After a seven year break, Panfilov returns to the world of filmmaking with another screen adaptation of Gorky’s work. Film Mother (1990)becomes the most large-scale work not only in Russian film industry of the time, but also in Panfilov’s directorial career. Dmitry Pevtsov, who performed the part of Jacob, receives the prestigious European award – Felix for Best Supporting Actor. And the director himself receives the Cannes prize for Creative contribution to film in 1990.
In 1991 Gleb Panfilov founds his own film studio “Vera”, which he calls after his mother.
While the film “Romanovs. The Imperial Family”, the screenplay for which the director writes together with his wife Churikova and their son Ivan, is in development Panfilov returns to Lenkom Theatre. There in 1992 he puts on a play “…Sorry” with Inna Churikova and Nikolai Karachintsev in the lead roles.
In 2000 Panfilov completes his film,which depicts the last few months of the last Russian Imperial family. In May 2001,“Romanovs. The Imperial Family”receives a Grand Prix at St. Petersburg film festival “Vivat, Russian Cinema!”
Five years later, in February 2006 the TV channel “Russia” premieres In the First Circle, based on Solzhenitsyn’s seminal work. Panfilov has been carrying the idea of adapting Solzhenitsyn for over 30 years. The TV series receive a wide acclaim and are awarded a number of prizes, including a “Nika”for Best TV film (the Russian equivalent of an Oscar).
A feature film based on the same novel is filmed simultaneously with the TV series, and Panfilov personally writes the screenplay. Film entitled To Treasure Forever is released in 2007. The following year it is awarded a special prize of the Russian representatives of the United Nations at the XIV International Human Rights Festival “Stalker”.
In October 2008 the TV channel “Russia”premieres another film by Panfilov, Guilty without Guilt, an adaption of Ostrovsky’s play. Again the film features an all-star cast – Inna Churikova, Oleg Jankovsky, Viktor Sukhorukov,Albert Filozov, and also introduces Ivan Panfilov in his first leading role.
Gleb Panfilov has been awarded a large number of national and international film prizes and titles; the selected awards include Peoples Artists of RSFSR (1984); Cannes Film Festival, 1990, Award for Artistic Contribution for Mother; Laureate of Russian Federation State prize (2001) and Russian Federation President’s prize (2003); Honoured Professor of the National Academy of Cinematographic Science and Arts.
He lives and works in Moscow.