A Friend of the Deceased

Director: Vyacheslav Krishtofovich
Screenwriters: Andrei Kourkov

Institute History

  • 1998 Sundance Film Festival


Shot in Vyacheslav Krishtofovich’s hometown of Kiev, A Friend of the Deceased is indisputably one of the best films to emerge from that region this decade. Utterly contemporary, featuring a model cast (Krishtofovich gets stunning performances from them), A Friend of the Deceased is a gloriously subtle tribute to his long-suffering countrymen who have seen their world vanish, only to be replaced by the uncertainties of the new order.

In the new-look Ukraine, crime bosses have replaced communist apparatchiks. Anatoli is a mild-mannered translator who has found the adjustment to the freewheeling ways of the market economy a difficult transition. He and his wife still share an apartment but not the same pillow at night, and while Anatoli has to make do with a patched-up phone, his wife flips out her cellular. When his wife walks out on him to live with another man, Anatoli flirts with the idea of hiring a hit man to kill her. Anything is possible in the new Ukraine, and no one asks questions these days.

Cast into despair, and finding himself in a bizarre situation as a result of his whim to erase his wife, Anatoli is kept from suicide as Krishtofovich introduces a bevy of wonderfully alive and life-affirming characters into the rest of his film, including an attractive young widow and her child. This beautifully subtle film is full of finely described moments that evoke a world in transition and people struggling to keep up while all the rules are changing.

Vyacheslav Krishtofovich, Director
Vyacheslav Krishtofovich was born into a Ukrainian-Polish family in Kiev in 1947 and studied directing at the Kiev Theatrical Institute. Between 1975 and 1985, he directed six television films, including His Own Happiness (1979), winner of a Special Jury Prize at the USSR Festival of Television Films. His first feature, Single Woman Seeks Lifetime Companion (1986), won the Best Actress Award at the Montreal Film Festival. Other films include Self-Portrait of an Unknown Person (1988) and Adam’s Rib (1991).

— Piers Handling, Toronto Film Festival

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]