Fri, 08 Dec 2023

Animation technology pioneers, the best-known screen adaptations, favorite characters that have won the love of audiences around the world and popular contemporary animated series - all this makes up Russian animation, the history of which goes back over a century.

1. The Beautiful Leukanida (Russian title: Prekrasnaya Lyukanida, ili Voyna usachey s rogachami), 1912

The first puppet film made using the stop-motion technique - a worldwide novelty in the early 20th century - was directed by Ladislas Starevich (Władysław Starewicz), considered the founder of commercial animation. The plot is a satirical parody of chivalric romance novels - Count Geros from the tribe of capricorn beetles is fighting for the heart of the married queen of the rival tribe of stag beetles. Moreover, the film used dried insects from Starevich's own collection - he had a lasting passion for entomology. Initially, the film, which enjoyed a resounding success all over the world, was silent, but, a century later, Russia's Gosfilmofond (State Film Archive) restored it and added not only music, but also a voiceover to enable contemporary viewers to understand all the intricacies of the insects' love battle.

2. Post, 1929

The first Soviet animated film with sound and, in its colorized version, the first one in color was created by illustrator Mikhail Tsekhanovsky, collaborating with poet and translator Samuil Marshak. 'Post' was based on Tsekhanovsky's graphic illustrations to Marshak's poem of the same name. Moreover, the poetic rhymes were perfectly synchronized with the rhythm and subject matter of the visual images. Nowadays, alas, viewers can only appreciate what a breakthrough the film represented in the original silent version - the color and sound version, in which the poem was read by Daniil Kharms, another famous poet, has not survived. Nevertheless, in the mid-1960s Tsekhanovsky, together with his wife, created almost a full remake of his original masterpiece, applying the latest technology to the production of a new version of the cartoon.

3. The New Gulliver, 1935

The world's first full-length animated film, admired by Charlie Champlin himself, was directed by Aleksandr Ptushko. The story about the travels of pioneer Petya Konstantinov, aka Gulliver, starts in perfectly ordinary classic children's movie style with real actors, but most of the plot unfolds in the puppet-inhabited 'Land of Lilliputians' in which Petya finds himself in a dream. At first glance, the film, released not only in the USSR, but worldwide, appears to be fully consistent with [Communist] Party-prescribed ideology, contrasting the pioneers and the working class with bourgeois society, except that a closer look reveals that the diminutive figures of the workers are all the same, while every royal courtier is different; moreover, satirical barbs against all state systems are strewn here and there throughout the movie.

4. The Humpbacked Horse (Russian title: Konyok-Gorbunok), 1947

This animated film adaptation of the classic fairy tale by Russian poet Pyotr Yershov, directed by Ivan Ivanov-Vano, became a textbook for American animators, who were shown the Soviet "Horse" by Walt Disney himself. It also won a prize at the Cannes Film Festival. The plot of the animation is typical for the majority of Russian fairy tales - a father has three sons, the youngest of whom is called Ivan the Fool. Thanks to his kindness, Ivan becomes directly involved in magical events, encounters a stern tsar, who is only interested in using him to win the heart of a tsar-maiden and, as the title suggests, Ivan also meets a fantastical humpbacked horse. But, the magical finale has a truly Hollywood-style happy ending. Appropriately, in the mid-1970s, Ivanov-Vano made some improvements to the film, applying more up-to-date technology and, in 1977, the movie went on general release in the United States.

5. The Snow Queen, 1957

The best-known film adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale not only won a prize at the Cannes Film Festival, but was also a formative influence on the famous Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. The film was directed by Lev Atamanov, who, together with visual artist Leonid Shvartsman, came up with the idea of using a unique technology that prefigured live-action animation. That is why the Snow Queen, literally a cinematographic rendition of actress Maria Babanova, differs from the other characters with her truly villainous power and cold demeanor, which the helpless Kai cannot resist, but whom Gerda, who spreads her warmth to everyone and everything around her, is able to stand up to. This story of genuine help and support from those close to you, who are unafraid of either frost or blizzards, became a true New Year phenomenon in the USSR. It was also broadcast during the Christmas holidays in other countries and was particularly popular with young American audiences. So, it is no coincidence that, many years later, 'Frozen' (2013), also inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale, became another traditional animated movie for Christmas.

6. The Wild Swans, 1962

This is another fairy tale adaptation by Hans Christian Andersen directed by Mikhail Tsekhanovsky, so the visual imagery is very important. Unlike the universal 'The Snow Queen', it bears the hallmarks of the unique Gothic style characteristic of the Danish author's prose. It carefully weaves its magic in such a way as to avoid scaring young viewers with its disturbing tale about Princess Elisa trying to rescue her brothers from the spell cast by their wicked stepmother.

7. The Story of a Crime, 1962

The satirical debut of outstanding artist and director Fyodor Khitruk won awards at Venice and other film festivals, because it tells a universal story, despite containing a huge number of specific details about everyday life in the Soviet Union. Furthermore, it represents the detective genre, which is rare in animation and is edited according to all the conventions of a live-action film. Vasily Vasilyevich Mamin, a 47-year-old law-abiding citizen, turns on his loud and noisy female neighbors one morning. But what led him to this act?

Of course, the cartoon will be better understood by adult audiences, who - despite the noise outside their windows - dream of getting "another five minutes" in bed before the alarm goes off. But, it also teaches children not to "stomp around on the ceiling" and respect their neighbors, especially if your apartment, like many in cheaply-built Soviet-era khrushchevka residential blocks, has poor sound insulation.

8. Stompy (Russian title: Toptyzhka), 1964

This is another animated film by Fyodor Khitruk about good-neighborly and child-parent relations, but it is made in a completely different technique. 'Stompy' is an extremely warm-hearted movie in which you want to stretch your hand towards the screen and stroke every character, be it the irrepressible bear cub or the big-eyed, young hare. But, most importantly, the cartoon - as should be expected in children's fairy tales - teaches tolerance and friendship, despite differences between species.

9. Puck! Puck! (also known as Goal! Goal!), 1964

A rare animated film about sport in which the real champion is director Boris Dyozhkin. The dynamic editing gives his story about the confrontation between cynical experienced ice hockey players and a united young team the look and feel of a real ice hockey match. But, the film is not just about victory and defeat in sport, but also about sincere emotions, the strength of a close-knit team and belief in a dream.

10. Boniface's Vacation, 1965

Long before 'Madagascar' (the 2005 American computer-animated movie), Fyodor Khitruk made an animated film showing how lions working in the circus have grandmothers, too. And how lions also have holidays during which they can visit them. What is striking about the animation is not only its charismatic and lovingly drawn anthropomorphic lion, but also the very grown-up story about how one's professional skills can help even on days off.

11. The Mitten, 1967

This extremely touching Soviet animated film won a prize at Annecy, the main international festival of animation. In a short puppet animation without words, director Roman Kachanov managed to express all the pain and all the hope of a child dreaming of a pet. If you wonder why Russians don't cry over the story of Hachikō [the Japanese dog who showed remarkable loyalty to its owner], believe me, it's because they were toughened by being brought up on 'The Mitten'.

12. Junior and Karlson, 1968-1970

Swedish author Astrid Lindgren's fairy tales about childhood loneliness were very popular in the USSR, where almost as soon as her books had come out, an animated film adaptation was made about Malysh (the Little One or Junior), a well-mannered boy from a big family. Malysh invents an imaginary friend - a man brimming with life who is always ready to endorse the eating of sweets or making the most daring journeys onto the roof (especially since Karlson - 'Karlsson' in the original Swedish spelling - has a propeller on his back). Unless, of course, the stern housekeeper Fröken Bock turns up - by today's standards, an irresponsible nanny, completely alien to the needs of a child whose parents are always at work.

13. Winnie-the-Pooh, 1969-1972

Almost simultaneously with the release of Disney's 'Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day', the USSR had its own bear cub based on A.A. Milne's stories. True, in the Soviet adaptation it was decided to do without Christopher Robin and the exotic Tigger and to make the main characters more independent, with temperaments similar to popular human types. Thus, the choleric Winnie now and again embarks on desperate adventures, overestimating his own abilities, the sanguine Piglet tries to do everything possible to support him with his unbridled optimism, the melancholic donkey Eeyore seeks to ruin even the most innocuous ventures with his attitude of mind, while the phlegmatic Owl and Rabbit with their characteristic realism are always ready to bring their friends down to Earth.

14. Well, Just You Wait!, 1969 - present day

The most popular homegrown animated series in Russia - which was recently given a contemporary sequel - mimics the plot of the famous 'Tom and Jerry' cartoons, except that, in the Soviet version, the main characters are not a cat and mouse, but a wolf and a hare. Moreover, the Soviet wolf, in terms of his strength and power, could beat the foreign feline pet by a mile; he even smoked on screen. In addition, in every new series of 'Well, Just You Wait!', director Vyacheslav Kotyonochkin included popular cultural references on topical themes - just as 'The Simpsons' and 'South Park' animated sitcoms would start doing some time later.

15. Gena the Crocodile and Cheburashka, 1971 - present day

This Soviet animated film series directed by Roman Kachanov, based on the novellas of Eduard Uspensky, became very popular not just in Russia, where Cheburashka was the mascot of the Russian national Olympic team, but also in Japan, which has made its own series and movies based on the popular Soviet characters. The unusual Cheburashka was an exotic phenomenon in the USSR - "a beast unknown to science", somewhat similar to a teddy bear, but with very, very big ears. He arrived in the country in a crate of oranges and became the best friend of an overly law-abiding crocodile named Gena. The popularity of the Soviet animated characters has prompted the production of a full-length film about Cheburashka, which is to be released at the end of the year and which uses CGI instead of puppets.

16. Adventures of Mowgli (Russian title: Maugli), 1973

This heroic full-length epic - rare in Soviet animation, albeit consisting of several short vignettes - is based on the stories by Rudyard Kipling. As in most films made by animators who had lived through World War II, here, too, the story of a lost child takes center stage. In the dangerous jungle he is forced to search for shelter and his family.

17. Hedgehog in the Fog, 1975

This animated odyssey is one of the most popular films in the world representing the Soviet school of animation. Hedgehog's journey to pay his friend Bear-Cub a visit has repeatedly been named by critics as the best animated film of all time. Yuri Norstein's film, the drawings for which were made by his wife, artist Francheska Yarbusova, is rightly considered a classic - thanks not only to the amazing images of the main characters, but also to the design of the backgrounds and the editing, which really take the viewer through thoroughly cinematic, rather than cartoon-like, fogs and rivers alongside Hedgehog on his way to see Bear-Cub, who, in turn, is so genuinely worried about his friend's perilous journey.

Read more about Hedgehog in the Fog

18. Three from Prostokvashino, 1978 - present day

This animated film series, loved by many generations of viewers and based on an Eduard Uspensky story, is partly a rerun of the classic Winnie-the-Pooh story. Only, instead of Christopher Robin, there is a boy with the grown-up name of Uncle Fyodor, who, away from his parents, makes a life for himself in the countryside, alongside a cat called Matroskin and a dog, Sharik. Another character is hapless pensioner Postman Pechkin, who, in the manner of someone from the social services, still worries about the boy, who he believes has become independent far too early.

19. Moomintroll and Others (Russian title: Mumi-troll i drugiye), 1978

The famous characters from the fairy tales by Finnish author Tove Jansson were particularly popular in the USSR, where, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, two animated TV series about the Moomin family and their friends were released at once. The first used puppets and was scripted in Moscow from Jansson's fairy tales by well-known poet Lyudmila Petrushevskaya, while some of the most popular Soviet actors of the time were invited to voice it. In every sense of the word, it was a family movie.

The second version was a hand-drawn animated series made by the Sverdlovsk Film Studio. Its narration was gentler and more geared to children, something that was reflected in the appearance of the characters.

20. Contact, 1978

After 'The Godfather' (1972) came out, the whole world could hum the Nino Rota score from it, only, in the USSR, the soundtrack was used in an animated film - which, to some degree, is also about learning to accept oneself through the acceptance of others, albeit in a different context. The expressionist animation tells the story of the "contact" between an artist working on a static landscape and an alien who unexpectedly lands in the same "natural scenery" and can transform itself into anything around it using its body and imitating sounds. It is not just the beautiful countryside around them, but also Rota's cult melody that helps the two to find a common language.

21. Tale of Tales, 1979

The most philosophical of the animated films that top the main lists of the best animations of all periods and nations was directed by Yuri Norstein, who also made 'Hedgehog in the Fog'. This short film - less than 30 minutes long - combines the styles and ideas of artists (in the broad sense) of different eras and different countries using the device of a traditional lullaby played off-screen. And in the dream that the film in a way consists of, there are echoes of Tarkovsky and Fellini, Lorca and Proust, Rembrandt and Picasso. The drawings of the latter inspired Norstein to bring in not only the animals that commonly feature in animated films, but also people.

Read more about Tales of Tales

22. The Flying Ship, 1979

This animated musical film based on the Russian fairy tale of the same name brings together virtually all the Russian folklore heroes and magical stories. There is a beautiful tsarevna (princess), whom her father wants to marry to a wicked boyar (nobleman in medieval Russia); her rescuer, an ordinary chimney sweep by the name of Vanya; and the melancholy Vodyanoy (an evil water spirit) with his high-octane sisters, the Babka Yozhkas. Furthermore, each character has their own very personal song and musical theme. This is a feel-good musical about the power of emergent love against a picturesque and quintessentially Russian backdrop with its obligatory birch trees, which also play an important role in the magical fairy tale.

23. The Mystery of the Third Planet, 1981

An amazing science fiction story about a journey into space in the 22nd century by nine-year-old Alisa and her father, Professor Seleznyov, to search for new animal species. The film, with its antimilitaristic approach to travel beyond the Solar System, offers its own version of 'Star Wars', as it were - although all the creatures other than the familiar cosmonauts are created with no less imagination than George Lucas' characters. And, on top of that, all the action is accompanied by the techno rave music that was just gaining popularity in the 1980s.

24. Mother for a Baby Mammoth, 1981

A short and moving story about a baby looking for his mother and believing in a dream. A cute baby mammoth with enormous "Disney eyes", who has miraculously escaped extinction, believes that, no matter what, he will find his mother. On his difficult journey, the little mammoth, who "fears neither the waves nor the wind", meets other animals along the way who help him. The animated film is best remembered for the song sung by the baby mammoth, which has become part and parcel of the Russian cultural and public realm.

25. Once Upon a Dog (Russian title: Zhil-byl Pyos), 1982

The story of an old watchdog who is written off as useless and the wolf who tries to help him regain his former glory is based on the Ukrainian fairy tale titled 'Sirko'. It became popular in many countries thanks to director Eduard Nazarov. In his film, he succeeded not only in infusing the animation with a distinctive rustic charm, but also in ironically illustrating the old adage that "an old ox makes a straight furrow". As a result, in India, the dog has been voiced by leading Bollywood star Mithun Chakraborty and, in a recent Norwegian version, Eurovision winner Alexander Rybak voices the Wolf.

26. Last Year's Snow Was Falling, 1983

Alexander Tatarsky's clay-animated film explains many stereotypes about the Russians and their habit of preparing even for New Year "quickly, but taking a long time over it", usually as late as December 31. Tellingly, the satirical animated film tells the story of an indefatigable Russian guy who goes out looking for a festive tree on New Year's Eve and is convinced he is going to find one.

27. Domovyonok Kuzya, 1984-87

He is probably the most famous house sprite in Russia. In the animation, he is a still quite young and grubby urchin with a wise mentor by the name of Nafanya; he encounters the unfriendly Baba Yaga; and, most importantly, he has dealings with a family which includes a young girl wise beyond her years named Natasha. On the one hand, Kuzya is an embodiment of people's belief in supernatural forces, and, on the other, with characteristic openness, he gathers around him people and creatures of completely different natures. Is that not a sure mark of a real keeper of the domestic hearth?

28. Return of the Prodigal Parrot, 1984-88

This satirical cartoon about an eccentric parrot named Kesha, who becomes a hero during the period of perestroika, articulates, as is the wont of these avians, the whole gamut of the encompassing discourse of those times. It has Tahiti, which Kesha once heard about on the news, and crime reports, as well as songs by leading pop star of the day, Alla Pugacheva, with monologues by the principal Soviet comedians and, of course, the capitalism that had gate-crashed Soviet life.

29. Wings, Legs and Tails, 1986

A philosophical cartoon on the theme that "those born to run can't fly". An ostrich tries to catch a lizard, but the latter discards its tail and easily evades its pursuer. Then, a vulture, which has taken a sudden fancy to the ostrich, tries to teach him to fly. The memorable tale of the attempt to turn the food chain on its head was drawn not only by Alexander Tatarsky, a promoter of ironic visuals in Soviet animation, but also by Igor Kovalyov, who was subsequently to work on the American animated sitcom 'The Simpsons'.

30. Investigation Held by Kolobki, 1986

This playfully oafish hand-drawn animated film - also the work of Tatarsky and Kovalyov - parodies "grown-up"" Soviet detective films. The Pilot Brothers - a senior Chief with his obligatory Sherlock Holmes-style cap and pipe and his colleague in his own funny hat - investigate the case of the kidnapping of a rare striped elephant from the zoo. Despite the fact that the most frequently-heard line in the film is: "I don't understand a thing," the investigators, thanks to their overconfidence and chance good fortune, still manage to find the villains and bring them to heel.

31. The Coiling Prankster (Russian title: Vykrutasy, also known in English under the title 'Twists and Turns'), 1987

This masterpiece by Garri Bardin, one of the most famous masters of Russian auteur animation, won the Palme d'Or at Cannes (where its French title was 'Fioritures'). The most remarkable feature of the work is that it is created with wire (only the sparse backgrounds are drawn). What is more, the means of making the characters becomes a metaphor for the way a person can deliberately fence themselves off from the outside world and literally end up behind barbed wire.

32. Treasure Island, 1988

Long before 'Pirates of the Caribbean', director David Cherkassky made his version of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel - which hovers on the dividing line between films for children and films for adults. The pirates' life was impossible without bad habits that didn't go down well in cartoons, so, in 'Treasure Island', Cherkassky doesn't shirk from inserting explanatory live-action scenes, which were actually also necessitated by a lack of time. The live-action scenes were removed for the film's American release.

33. Bolero, 1992

Director Ivan Maximov won a Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for this animation. It is subtitled "A film of enriched spirituality", displaying the tendencies of art house cinema where frequently bareness conceals the simplest of meanings and plot development is replaced with visual esthetics - in Maximov's animation, to the music of Maurice Ravel, pretty much literally so.

34. The Old Man and the Sea, 1999

This Oscar-winning work by artist and enthusiastic literature buff Aleksandr Petrov was the world's first animated film made for IMAX cinemas. He spent two and a half years filming Hemingway's last novella, which is unsurprising, given that he painted each frame on glass - not only with brushes, but also with his fingertips. The result is a stunningly beautiful adventure story-cum-parable about the strength of the human spirit and a tale about a heartwarming friendship.

35. Little Longnose, 2003

This was the first Russian full-length animated film made after the film industry crisis of the 1990s, which resulted in the disappearance of the state film studios. Based on motifs from the story of the same name by Wilhelm Hauff, the movie was made in an absolutely "Disney-like" tradition and tells the story of a young boy named Jacob, who attempts to deal with a curse that an evil witch has cast on him: A kind heart and, of course, love can help him in his quest.

36. Kikoriki (Russian: Smeshariki, also known in the US as GoGoRiki), 2003 - present day

This was the first animated series.produced in the Russian Federation. Initially devised as a purely commercial product, it became one of the biggest hits both in Russia and abroad. 'Smeshariki' emerged from an advertising assignment to design the wrappings for a new line of round chocolates. But, it turned out, the characters thought up by the artists were so good that they easily transformed into a major cartoon series that could be used to promote the products with representations of the characters. That was the origin of the ebullient Krash (Russian: Krosh), romantic Rosa (Russian: Nyusha), melancholy Wally (Russian: Barash), the no-nonsense Barry (Russian: Kopatych), Dokko (Russian: Losyash) with his propensity for reckless schemes, wise Carlin (Russian: Kar-Karych) and many other round characters.

37. Alyosha Popovich and Tugarin Zmey and other films about the Three Bogatyrs, 2004 - present day

Probably the most popular animation franchise in Russia is based on the Old Russian epic tales, but it ironically casts doubt on the heroism of the Russian bogatyrs (warrior heroes). Set long before the worldwide era of enlightened feminism, these Russian cartoon films show men who have spent a decade or more lying on warm stoves and couldn't manage anything without female support. Or without the charismatic Julius the Horse (Russian: Kon Yuly), appropriately named after Julius Caesar. The series is a rare example of feature-length Russian animated movie that is of interest to adults (who can pick up the topical jokes) and children (who enjoy the colorful art), alike.

38. Masha and the Bear, 2009 - present day

This Russian cartoon series enjoys an enormous fan base throughout the world and even has an entry in Guinness World Records - one of the episodes ("Masha and Porridge" a.k.a. "Recipe for disaster") was the most watched animated clip in the history of YouTube (4,5 billion views). The plot of the series replays not just the folk tale of the girl who visits the house of a bear, but also the 'Tom and Jerry' classics where Masha is like the high-spirited mouse, contriving to cause mischief and then running off into the forest, while the Bear is not unlike the cat, who is led this way and that way by his animal instincts, but showing a more mature wisdom. This implied contrast between boisterous children and parents who keep their cool might even be the secret of the success of the series.

39. The Ugly Duckling, 2010

This full-length animation by Cannes Film Festival winner Garri Bardin was made using different techniques (puppets and modeling clay) and draws on a large number of cultural sources. It brings in not only the Hans Christian Andersen story, which gave the film its title, and musical motifs from Tchaikovsky's 'Swan Lake' - a perfectly appropriate musical accompaniment for the work - but also, for instance, George Orwell's 'Animal Farm'. It does so for good reason, as this version of 'The Ugly Duckling', complex though it might be, is an essay on the horribleness of xenophobia comprehensible to people of all ages.

40. The Fixies (Russian title: Fiksiki), 2010

This popular-science animated series was created for educational purposes by those behind 'Kikoriki' (Smeshariki). The main protagonists are little robots living in various items of technical equipment who find a common language with a boy by the name of Tom Thomas (Russian name DimDimych) and then his friends and family and describe how the objects that surround them work - from a fridge to a memory card.

41. The Snow Queen, 2012-17

This reincarnation of the Hans Christian Andersen story made using 3D graphics predated 'Frozen' (2013). Perhaps this accounts for the film's popularity abroad. The Snow Queen franchise, in which center stage is not even taken by the heroine of the title nor Gerda and Kai, but by Orm the Troll, was sold for screening in dozens of countries and has enjoyed particular popularity in China, in collaboration with which two sequels were co-produced.

42. Ku! Kin-dza-dza, 2013

The updated animated remake of Georgy Danelia's eponymous Soviet movie extravaganza of 1986. The animated version is a more pared-down and international adaptation of this cosmic - by every measure - satire about the way of life and manners of Russian society regardless of historical period.

43. My Own Personal Moose, 2013

This Berlin Film Festival prize winner is a sad, but psychologically therapeutic animated film about difficult father-son relations and the working-through of childhood traumas. The boy Misha has long been grown up, but he has never felt the parental warmth he needed so much and has constantly dreamt of finally meeting the big, kind moose that he can remember from his childhood - that was the design on his dad's sweater when he collected Misha from the maternity hospital. And, in these dreams, he has forgotten about his own real life and about the father who, despite his inability to express his feelings, nevertheless always loved his son.

44. The Wound (Russian title: Obida), 2013

Another festival animation about childhood trauma, this was awarded the Special Jury Award at Annecy. It was shot by young Urals-based artist and filmmaker Anna Budanova. The main protagonist of the hand-drawn animated film is an elderly woman who looks in the mirror and remembers her best "friend", Obida (lit: Resentment), whose insidiousness destroyed all her hopes for a happy life.

45. We Can't Live Without Cosmos, 2014

Visually, let alone plot wise, Konstantin Bronzit's Oscar-nominated animated film can hold its own with the likes of Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar'. It is the story of two friends who have dreamed of becoming cosmonauts since childhood and have trained for this profession together. But, one of them is destined to blast off on a mission, while the other merely to remain in the standby crew. This is by no means a movie about dreams of the starry sky, but rather about a tear-jerkingly genuine friendship that proves much vaster than the universe.

46. Kid-E-Cats (Russian title: Three Cats), 2015 - present day

This universal animated series, which, following screenings on Russian television, was bought by Nickelodeon and Netflix, is about the life of a large family of cats, where the children comprise "three cats including one girl-kitten". The short episodes follow the everyday adventures of the kittens, in which the brothers frequently follow their instincts, while the little sister kitten does her best to exercise common sense and show responsibility towards their parents. The latter in fact are always imparting a lot of worldly-wise advice so that any adventure, even the most madcap one, ends with an amicable family "meow-meow", comprehensible in all the languages of the world.

47. Rezo (Russian title: Do you know, mom, where I have been?), 2017

This unusual work is by Leo Gabriadze, known abroad as the director of the horror 'Unfriended'. The animated film is a large-scale reminiscence of the childhood of his father, the famous Soviet director Rezo Gabriadze and is based on the latter's drawings. They include not just childhood dreams and fantasies, but also the harsh reality encountered by the 10-year-old Rezo, who lived in a small Georgian village after World War II.

48. The Adventures of Peter and the Wolf, 2018 - present day

This rare animated series for teenagers has been well received by viewers of all ages. A sort of Russian answer to the popular 'Rick and Morty', it was devised and directed by Aleksey Lebedev, one of the first screenwriters for the hit TV series 'Smeshariki' (see No. 36 above). After their earlier encounter, Peter and the Wolf now work together and help well-known fairytale characters to deal with the strangest of things. All this, moreover, is accompanied by recognizable references to Russian and world culture and the films full of jokes about everyday situations, which parents, as well as children, find funny.

49. The Nose or the Conspiracy of Mavericks, 2020

The principal masterpiece of outstanding Russian animator Andrey Khrzhanovsky is based on the story by Nikolai Gogol and Khrzanovsky's musical interpretation of Dmitri Shostakovich. This is true only up to a point, however - in actual fact, the film amounts to a real history of the country. Using philosophical and satirical montages blending different techniques of animation, Khrzhanovsy immerses the viewer in Russia's "cultural DNA" - from the 19th century to our day. You can watch the series at The Start streaming service.

50. Boxballet, 2020

Anton Dyakov's Oscar-nominated animated film tells of the relations between a rugged boxer and a fragile ballerina and also combines the graphic power of comic strips with a loose - in terms of visual manner - paraphrasing of the paintings of Edgar Degas. Here, the dancers and the athletes are far from who they seem. But they are united by a shared sporting spirit.

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