Grigory Chukhray

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Grigory Chukhray
Grigory Naumovich Chukhray

(1921-05-23)23 May 1921
Died28 October 2001(2001-10-28) (aged 80)
Resting placeVagankovo Cemetery, Moscow
Occupation(s)Film director, screenwriter
Years active1956–1984
Notable work
TitlePeople's Artist of the USSR (1981)

Grigory Naumovich Chukhray (Russian: Григо́рий Нау́мович Чухра́й; Ukrainian: Григорiй Наумович Чухрай; 23 May 1921 – 28 October 2001) was a Ukrainian Soviet and Russian film director and screenwriter.[1] People's Artist of the USSR (1981).[2] He's the father of the Russian film director Pavel Chukhray.

Early life[edit]

Grigory Chukhray was born in Melitopol (modern-day Zaporizhzhia Oblast of Ukraine) to Red Army soldiers Naum Zinovievich Rubanov and Claudia Petrovna Chukhray. He was of Ukrainian origin.[3][4] His parents divorced when he was three years old. He was raised by a stepfather, Pavel Antonovich Litvinenko, the head of kolkhoz. His mother Claudia Chukhray took an active part in the collectivization and dekulakization of the Ukrainian SSR, then worked as an investigation officer at militsiya.[3]

In 1939, he was drafted to the army. A decorated veteran of World War II, Chukhray's wartime experiences profoundly affected him and the majority of his films. He served in the 229th separate communications battalion of the 134th Infantry Division (later part of the 19th Army). He fought at the Southern, Stalingrad and Don Fronts. From 1943 on, he served in airborne troops at the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts and took part in operation "Dnipro Troopers".[5] He was wounded three times. In 1944, he joined the Communist Party.[4][6]


At war's end, he studied filmmaking at VGIK, the course led by Sergei Yutkevich and Mikhail Romm, and then developed his skills as a director's assistant at the Kiev Film Studio. By the mid-1950s, he began writing and directing his own films at the Mosfilm studio, gaining cinematic recognition outside the Soviet Union at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival with his film The Forty-First (1956).[5]

Chukhray directed and co-wrote Ballad of a Soldier (1959). Around the themes of love and the tragedy of war, the film received acclaim at home, earning the Lenin Prize. It was heralded internationally for both its story and cinematic technique. At the 1960 Cannes Film Festival it was awarded a special jury prize for "high humanism and outstanding quality." Ballad of a Soldier premiered in the United States in 1960 at the San Francisco International Film Festival.[7] The film won the Festival's Golden Gate Award, for Best Picture and for Best Director for Grigory Chukhray. Playing worldwide, the following year, it earned the BAFTA Award for Best Film. Grigory Chukhray and script co-writer Valentin Yezhov were also nominated for the 1961 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.[8]

Chukhray's next film was Clear Skies (1961). It told the story of a Soviet pilot who had survived Nazi imprisonment during the war, but was accused of spying. It was one of the first Soviet films to deal with some of the repressive practices under the Soviet leadership of Joseph Stalin. It won the Grand Prix (in a tie with Kaneto Shindo's The Naked Island) at the 2nd Moscow International Film Festival.[9] Two years later Chukhray served as the President of the Jury at the 3rd Moscow International Film Festival.[10]

Between 1966 and 1971, Chukhray headed the director's courses at VGIK. In 1965, he founded and headed the Experimental Studio at Mosfilm that produced such films as White Sun of the Desert (1970), The Twelve Chairs (1971), Ivan Vasilievich: Back to the Future (1973), A Slave of Love (1976), and other popular movies. He also served as a member of the State Committee for Cinematography between 1964 and 1991.[2]

Grigory Chukhray's grave on the Vagankovo Cemetery in Moscow.

In 1984, Chukhray directed his final Soviet film, together with Yuri Shvyryov: I'll Teach You to Dream. In 1992–1993, he and Rolf Schübel co-directed Todfeinde. Vom Sterben und Überleben in Stalingrad, a joined Russian-Germany documentary in two parts about the Battle of Stalingrad. In this film Chukhray as well as other Russian and German survivors told about their experiences during the battle.

In 1994, Chukhray was awarded a Nika Award for his lifetime contribution to cinema.[11] In 2001, he published two volumes of memoirs entitled My War and My Cinema, dedicated to his war experience and his work in cinema, respectively.

He was married to Iraida Chukhray (née Penkova), a teacher of Russian language and literature. They had two children: Pavel Chukhray (born 1946), a Russian director, and Elena Chukhray (born 1961), an expert in film studies.

Grigory Chukhray died of heart failure in Moscow in 2001 at the age of eighty. He was buried at the Vagankovo Cemetery.

Honours and awards[edit]


Year English Title Original Title Notes
1956 The Forty-First Сорок первый Director
1959 Ballad of a Soldier Баллада о солдате Director; screenwriter
1961 Clear Skies Чистое небо Director
1965 There Was an Old Couple Жили-были старик со старухой Director
1966 People! Люди! Director
1971 Memory Память Director; documentary
1978 Untypical Story Трясина Director; screenwriter
1979 Life Is Beautiful Жизнь прекрасна Director; screenwriter
1984 I'll Teach You to Dream Я научу вас мечтать Co-director with Yuri Shvyryov; documentary


  1. ^ Richard Taylor, Nancy Wood, Julian Graffy, Dina Iordanova (2019). The BFI Companion to Eastern European and Russian Cinema. Bloomsbury. p. 1968. ISBN 978-1838718497.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b Cinema: Encyclopedic Dictionary // main editor Sergei Yutkevich (1987). — Moscow: Soviet Encyclopedia, 640 pages
  3. ^ a b Grigori Chukrai, My Cinema. Moscow, 2001, 98 p. ISBN 5-9265-0047-8
  4. ^ a b Award List Archived 2017-03-04 at the Wayback Machine scan at The People's Feat During the Great Patriotic War of 1941—1945 database
  5. ^ a b "Энциклопедия отечественного кино". Archived from the original on 2015-05-24. Retrieved 2015-12-25.
  6. ^ Chukhrai Grigory Naumovich fighting map at The People's Memory 1941—1945 database
  7. ^ LIFE Magazine: Two Winning Russians. Time Inc. 1960. p. 110.
  8. ^ "Grigori Chukhrai". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-05-04. Retrieved 2016-01-14.
  9. ^ "2nd Moscow International Film Festival (1961)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  10. ^ "3rd Moscow International Film Festival (1963)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  11. ^ Григорий Наумович Чухрай (1921-2001)

External links[edit]