Release date:January 20, 2009
Screenwriters:Andrey Khrzhanovsky, Yuri Arabov
Joseph Brodsky, the Russian-Jewish-American poet, won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1987 and was made poet laureate of theU.S. in 1991. Given that he was expelled from the USSR in 1972, it's not surprising that much of his writing deals with themes of exile, loss and memory. An imagined return to the parents he never saw again and his childhood home of St. Petersburg ("a city whose color was fossilized vodka") is the essence of this wonderfully nostalgic, whimsical movie. Made by famed Russian animator Andrey Khrzhanovsky, "A Room and a Half" recalls the glory years of a much-loved child and the particular absurdities and indignities suffered by Jews under the Soviet regime in the '50s and '60s. The filmmaker's light touch – his use of animation, stills, archival footage, and scripted, dramatic material – melds the sophisticated surrealism of Magritte with the folk mysticism of Chagall.