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Eugene Yufit (1961–2016)

Eugene Yufit, a Russian artist and filmmaker who is known as the father of Necrorealism, died on December 13 at the age of fifty-five, Artguide reports.

Born in Leningrad in 1961, Yufit founded Necrorealism—a movement known as Parallel Cinema focusing on black humor and the absurd that resulted in the making of films outside of the Goskino State Cinema system—in the 1980s. The early Necrorealists included Igor Bezrukov, Yevgeniy Kondratiev, and Konstantin Mitenev. Their works often explored themes of death, decay, and the transformation of the body.

Filmmaker Sergei Dobrotvorsky said, “Early Necrorealist declarations affirmed the life of the body abandoned by the soul and advocated pure idiocy, uncorrupted by instinct or the subconscious. Their short films recall Mack Sennett’s slapstick style of the 1910s and the shock aesthetics of the French avant-garde, as well as the unrestrained eccentricity of the Soviet cinema of the 1920s.”

In 1985, Yufit established Mzhalalafilm, the first Soviet independent film studio where he produced experimental short films, including Sawyer (1984), Spring (1987), Courage (1988), and Boar Suicide (1988). He would later join Alexander Sokurov’s workshop at Lenfilm studio, where he made his first 35-mm films, including Knights of Heaven (1989).

Yufit’s works were shown at major film festivals in Montreal, Locarno, Toronto, and Rotterdam. In 1991, he made his first feature film, Papa, Father Frost Is Dead, which won the Grand Prix at the International Film Festival in Rimini, Italy. In 2005, the International Film Festival Rotterdam featured a program dedicated to Yufit.

His works, including his paintings, photographs, and films, can be found in the permanent collections of the State Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Kunsthalle in Düsseldorf, and in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 2011, he was included in the “Necrorealism” exhibition at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, and in 2015 he was featured in “Positive Regress” at the Petersburg Name Gallery.