Sunday, July 22, 2007

Poka, moi dorogoi drook.

sashinkaSad news. Alexander Tatarsky passed away yesterday. He was the co-founder and president of Studiya Pilot*, the first non-state animation studio in Russia. I'd met him in Moscow in 1996 through Igor Kovalyov - his best friend and studio partner - and ended up moving in with "Sasha," his lovely wife Katya (all pictured above, Sasha middle) and three-year-old son Ilya for seven weeks. I kept Ilya occupied by watching Russian Sesame Street with him (which vastly improved my language skills) and by tying his feet together when he got too crazy (but he always hopped after me.) In return, Sasha called me his daughter and said I should stay. My last night in Moscow, we drank champagne and he dug out two antique pistols, one of which he fired without warning. Oh, Sashinka.

I'd seen him periodically since then, including this year at Annecy. How thankful I am for that. My Russian was so much better, as was his English. He was proud of his new baby and now-teenaged Ilya. He met my dad, whom he'd heard much about. Sasha described how Igor kept a small photo of my father, which he looked at once in the morning and once at night, Lenin-style. It was that insane deadpan humor that made him so instantly likeable, made the intervening years seem like days, and language less a barrier than a playground. He was a very good man.

For more information about his life and accomplishments, read's obituary here.

Read Variety's obituary here.

Here is The Independent's memorial, which I am proud to have contributed to.

Enjoy his first film as director, "Plasticine Crow":


* The site has been replaced by a message for now. Excuse the rough translation:

Dear friends, colleagues, those who love animation….
We have a big loss.
Our leader has died.
The soul of the studio.
Our Alexander Mikhailovich Tatarsky.
There are no words. They will be later.
But then there was business. And is. And will be.
And a huge feeling of gratitude for everything.
For being in this profession. For having not grown up or having not finished growing up. For that happy freedom which has been granted to us by our chief.
It is difficult to say how you feel when the atmosphere you breathed disappears.
We of course shall continue to live and work, to create so that we will not be shameful compared to our teacher. And nevertheless time is necessary to accept this loss and think calmly about how to go on.
Thank you to everyone who has responded and grieves with us.
Some photos (link)



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