Magia Russica

A poetic view of Russian animation and of cultural and social transformations Russian society has been gone through.

It is about multi faceted and humorous animation, almost never exposed to western eyes.


In 1935, three Walt Disney films were screened in Moscow. Fyodor Khytruk, then a young art student, saw these films and didn’t believe his eyes; he was convinced that he had seen a miracle unfolding before him. What he didn’t know was that one day he himself would become one of the greats of Russian animation. Through his personal story, we discover a magical art form that remained closed behind the Iron Curtainfor decades.

Compared to the other arts – especially literature and Cinema – the animated films, considered a children’s art form, passed relatively easily through the strict censorship of the Soviet Union. Like all Soviet institutions, the animation studios Soyuzmultfilm enjoyed full government support, a fact that provided the artists with generous production budgets as well as distribution in 112,000 cinemas around the USSR. This situation allowed for the development of a tradition of animation style that was not only for children.

Magia Russica moves between the sights and sounds of the Russian landscape, and into those of the animated films themselves. The films reflected not only the difficult though humor-filled Soviet experience, but also the rich cultural heritage of Russia, with Pushkin as its spiritual father.

Today, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, as Russia makes thetransition into capitalism, the animation artists discover that the rules of the market and ratings are not necessarily less restrictivethan ideological censorship.

In a rare look into the artistic process, at the creation of magic, the artists share their ideas about art, about cinema and about the way in which these should be related to. Magia Russica is guided by the spirit of their words.


Channel 8 Israel

Canal+ Poland

TVP Poland

YLE Finland

Parliamentary Channel Greece

ETV Estonia

TV Cultura Brazil


Directors and Producers Yonathan & Masha Zur

Producers in Russia Elena Kassavina, Natalya Chernishova

Cinematography Yonathan Zur, Anton Mikhalev

Interviews Masha Zur

Editing Yonathan Zur

Sound Editing Aric Deri

Participants Fyodor Khitruk, Yuri Norstein, Eduard Nazarov, Garri Bardin, Joseph Boyarsky, Alexander Tatarsky, Danny Mendelevich, Felix Kandel, Alexander Kurliandsky

World Sales Cinephil

Poster and credits’ illustrations design Irene Bat-Zvi


Haifa International Film Festival Israel 2004 – competition

It’s All True Brazil 2005 – competition

Mediawave Hungary 2005

Gibara Cuba 2005 – competition

Dokfest munchen Germany 2005

Annecy (Animation festival) France 2005

Art Film Festival Slovak Rep. 2005

Anima Mundi Brazil 2005

CAF animation Korea 2005

Fantoche (Animation festival) Switzerland 2005

Umea International Film Festival Sweden 2005

Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated films Germany 2005

Cork International Film Festival Ireland 2005

Leeds International Film Festival UK 2005

Kassel Dokumentar Film und Videofest Germany 2005

Cinanima Portugal2005

International Film Festival of Mar Del Plata Argentina 2005 – competition

Cracow Animation Festival Poland 2005

Talin Black Nights Film Festival Estonia 2005

Anima (Animation festival) Belgium 2006

ReAnimacja (Animation festival) Poland 2006

BIMINI (Animation festival) Latvia 2006

Gottingen International Film Festival Germany 2006

SICAF Korea2006

Zlin children film festival Czech rep. 2006

Animafest Zagreb Croatia 2006

Hiroshima International Animation Festival Japan2006

Taiwan International Animation Festival China 2006

Dani Filma Bosnia & Herzegovina 2006 – competition

AFO International Film Festival Czech rep. 2006 – competition

International Animation Festival Istanbul Turkey 2006

Les Nuits Magiques France 2006

Multivision International animation Film Festival Russia 2006

VIEWS OF THE WORLD Documentary & Animated F.F Cyprus2007

DOKUBAZAAR Slovenia 2009

Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam The Netherlands 2011