Ilya and Marusya

Director: Vladimir Nepevnyi

At the core of this poetically edited assemblage are the love letters between the writer Ilya Ilf (1897-1937) and his wife, Maria Tasarenko (Marusya), recently published by their daughter, Alexandra. The film uses beautiful, historic black and white footage, scenes from Russian film history, superbly chosen background music, as well as countless photographs made by Ilya Ilf himself, to bring to life this exchange between Marusya, who lived in Odessa, and Ilya, who worked in Moscow. Ilya Ilf and his co-author Evgeny Petrov wrote sharp satirical books such as ”The Twelve Chairs“ (1928) and ”The Golden Calf“ (1931), which were hugely successful throughout the USSR.

The two journalist-novelists were even sent by Pravda on a study tour of the United States in 1935-36. But, in their texts they attacked not only capitalism, but communism as well. In 2006, Princeton Architectural Press published a book about their American investigation using Ilya Ilf’s photographs. In the letters between Ilya and Marusya, a tender and bashful writer is revealed: highly sensitive and insecure in contrast to his sharp tongue as a satirist.