The Russian father of “Winnie the Pooh”, maverick animator Fyodor Khitruk has died aged 95. He created over 200 characters for 102 animated films and picked up some of the world’s most coveted awards, including the Golden Palm at Cannes.
The prolific artist has won more awards than the number of films he produced, taking home trophies from Venice, Toronto and Miami.
Khitruk got carried away by animated cartoons when he joined his father on a business trip to Germany. After the young man came back to Moscow he studied animation. He wanted to work at the state-run Soviet studios Soyuzmultfilm. Khitruk had applied for three years running before he was finally hired, eventually working there for half a century.
Khitruk was blown away by Disney movies when he had a chance to watch them in Moscow. But the aspiring animator had to interrupt work at the studios when WWII broke out.
His debut cartoon, “Story of a Crime”, was a sweeping success, when it premiered in 1962, picking up an award at a festival in San Francisco. The cartoon marked the beginning of a new era in Soviet animation.
As much as Khitruk was interested in working on children’s characters such as in “Bonifacio's Holiday” and “The Lion and the Bull”, the animator wasn’t indifferent to issues of solitude, success and bureaucracy. He made his name as the author of signature short-film classics for adults, such as the award-winning “Film Film Film”, “Man in the Frame” and “Island”.
His commitment to animation was deep-rooted and lifelong. When he was 91 Khitruk released a two-volume book, “The Profession of Animation”, describing his 50 years of experience.
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