The Most Famous

FILM DIRECTORS from Russia

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This page contains a list of the greatest Russian Film Directors. The pantheon dataset contains 2,041 Film Directors, 57 of which were born in Russia. This makes Russia the birth place of the 6th most number of Film Directors behind Italy, and Germany.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Russian Film Directors of all time. This list of famous Russian Film Directors is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Russian Film Directors.

Photo of Andrei Tarkovsky

1. Andrei Tarkovsky (1932 - 1986)

With an HPI of 74.60, Andrei Tarkovsky is the most famous Russian Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 79 different languages on wikipedia.

Andrei Arsenyevich Tarkovsky (Russian: Андрей Арсеньевич Тарковский, IPA: [ɐnˈdrʲej ɐrˈsʲenʲjɪvʲɪtɕ tɐrˈkofskʲɪj] ru 4 April 1932 – 29 December 1986) was a Soviet film director and screenwriter of Russian origin. Widely considered one of the greatest and most influential directors in cinema history, Tarkovsky's films explore spiritual and metaphysical themes, and are noted for their slow pacing and long takes, dreamlike visual imagery, and preoccupation with nature and memory. Tarkovsky studied film at Moscow's VGIK under filmmaker Mikhail Romm, and subsequently directed his first five features in the Soviet Union: Ivan's Childhood (1962), Andrei Rublev (1966), Solaris (1972), Mirror (1975), and Stalker (1979). A number of his films from this period are ranked among the best films ever made. After years of creative conflict with state film authorities, Tarkovsky left the country in 1979 and made his final two films abroad; Nostalghia (1983) and The Sacrifice (1986) were produced in Italy and Sweden respectively. In 1986, he also published a book about cinema and art entitled Sculpting in Time. He died later that year of cancer, a condition possibly caused by the toxic locations used in the filming of Stalker. Tarkovsky was the recipient of several awards at the Cannes Film Festival throughout his career, including the FIPRESCI prize, the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, and the Grand Prix Spécial du Jury. He was also awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for his debut film, Ivan's Childhood. In 1990, he was posthumously awarded the Soviet Union's prestigious Lenin Prize. Three of his films—Andrei Rublev, Mirror, and Stalker—featured in Sight & Sound's 2012 poll of the 100 greatest films of all time.

Photo of Konstantin Stanislavski

2. Konstantin Stanislavski (1863 - 1938)

With an HPI of 71.70, Konstantin Stanislavski is the 2nd most famous Russian Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 65 different languages.

Konstantin Sergeyevich Stanislavski (Russian: Константин Сергеевич Станиславский, IPA: [kənstɐnʲˈtʲin sʲɪrˈɡʲejɪvʲɪtɕ stənʲɪˈslafskʲɪj]; né Alekseyev; 17 January [O.S. 5 January] 1863 – 7 August 1938) was a seminal Soviet Russian theatre practitioner. He was widely recognized as an outstanding character actor, and the many productions that he directed garnered him a reputation as one of the leading theatre directors of his generation. His principal fame and influence, however, rests on his "system" of actor training, preparation, and rehearsal technique. Stanislavski (his stage name) performed and directed as an amateur until the age of 33, when he co-founded the world-famous Moscow Art Theatre (MAT) company with Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko, following a legendary 18-hour discussion. Its influential tours of Europe (1906) and the US (1923–24), and its landmark productions of The Seagull (1898) and Hamlet (1911–12), established his reputation and opened new possibilities for the art of the theatre. By means of the MAT, Stanislavski was instrumental in promoting the new Russian drama of his day—principally the work of Anton Chekhov, Maxim Gorky, and Mikhail Bulgakov—to audiences in Moscow and around the world; he also staged acclaimed productions of a wide range of classical Russian and European plays. He collaborated with the director and designer Edward Gordon Craig and was formative in the development of several other major practitioners, including Vsevolod Meyerhold (whom Stanislavski considered his "sole heir in the theatre"), Yevgeny Vakhtangov, and Michael Chekhov. At the MAT's 30-year anniversary celebrations in 1928, a massive heart attack on-stage put an end to his acting career (though he waited until the curtain fell before seeking medical assistance). He continued to direct, teach, and write about acting until his death a few weeks before the publication of the first volume of his life's great work, the acting manual An Actor's Work (1938). He was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labour and the Order of Lenin and was the first to be granted the title of People's Artist of the USSR. Stanislavski wrote that "there is nothing more tedious than an actor's biography" and that "actors should be banned from talking about themselves". At the request of a US publisher, however, he reluctantly agreed to write his autobiography, My Life in Art (first published in English in 1924 and in a revised, Russian-language edition in 1926), though its account of his artistic development is not always accurate. Three English-language biographies have been published: David Magarshack's Stanislavsky: A Life (1950) ; Jean Benedetti's Stanislavski: His Life and Art (1988, revised and expanded 1999). and Nikolai M Gorchakov's "Stanislavsky Directs" (1954). An out-of-print English translation of Elena Poliakova's 1977 Russian biography of Stanislavski was also published in 1982.

Photo of Nikita Mikhalkov

3. Nikita Mikhalkov (b. 1945)

With an HPI of 63.34, Nikita Mikhalkov is the 3rd most famous Russian Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 61 different languages.

}} Nikita Sergeyevich Mikhalkov (Russian: Никита Сергеевич Михалков; born 21 October 1945) is a Russian filmmaker, actor, and head of the Russian Cinematographers' Union. Mikhalkov is a three-time laureate of the State Prize of the Russian Federation (1993, 1995, 1999) and is a Full Cavalier of the Order "For Merit to the Fatherland". Nikita Mikhalkov won the Golden Lion of the Venice Film Festival (1991) and was nominated for the Academy Award (1993) in the category Best International Feature Film for the film Close to Eden. He won an Academy Award (1995) for Best Foreign Language Film and the Grand Prix of the Cannes Film Festival (1994) for the film Burnt by the Sun. Mikhalkov received the "Special Lion" of the Venice Film Festival (2007) for his contribution to the cinematography and nominated for an Academy Award for the film 12 (2007).

Photo of Vsevolod Meyerhold

4. Vsevolod Meyerhold (1874 - 1940)

With an HPI of 62.89, Vsevolod Meyerhold is the 4th most famous Russian Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 38 different languages.

Vsevolod Emilyevich Meyerhold (born Karl Kasimir Theodor Meyerhold; 9 February [O.S. 28 January] 1874 – 2 February 1940) was a Russian and Soviet theatre director, actor and theatrical producer. His provocative experiments dealing with physical being and symbolism in an unconventional theatre setting made him one of the seminal forces in modern international theatre. During the Great Purge, Meyerhold was arrested in June 1939. He was tortured, his wife was murdered, and he was executed on 2 February 1940.

Photo of Andrei Konchalovsky

5. Andrei Konchalovsky (b. 1937)

With an HPI of 62.35, Andrei Konchalovsky is the 5th most famous Russian Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 52 different languages.

Andrei Sergeyevich Konchalovsky OZO (Russian: Андрей Сергеевич Кончаловский; born 20 August 1937) is a Russian filmmaker. He has worked in Soviet, Hollywood, and contemporary Russian cinema. He is a laureate of the Order "For Merit to the Fatherland", a National Order of the Legion of Honour, an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters, a Cavalier of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic and a People's Artist of the RSFSR. He is the son of writer Sergey Mikhalkov, and the brother of filmmaker Nikita Mikhalkov. Konchalovsky's work has encompassed theatrical motion pictures, telefilms, documentaries, and stage productions. His film credits include Uncle Vanya (1970), Siberiade (1979), Maria's Lovers (1984), Runaway Train (1985), Tango & Cash (1989), House of Fools (2002), The Postman's White Nights (2014), Paradise (2016), and Dear Comrades! (2020). He also directed the 1997 miniseries adaptation of the ancient Greek narrative The Odyssey. Earlier in his career, he was a collaborator of Andrei Tarkovsky. His films have won numerous accolades, including the Cannes Grand Prix Spécial du Jury, a FIPRESCI Award, two Silver Lions, three Golden Eagle Awards, and a Primetime Emmy Award.

Photo of Genndy Tartakovsky

6. Genndy Tartakovsky (b. 1970)

With an HPI of 61.88, Genndy Tartakovsky is the 6th most famous Russian Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 31 different languages.

Gennady Borisovich "Genndy" Tartakovsky (; born 17 January 1970) is a Russian-American animator, writer, producer, and director. He is best known as the creator of various animated television series on Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, including Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Star Wars: Clone Wars, Sym-Bionic Titan, Primal, and Unicorn: Warriors Eternal. For Sony Pictures Animation, he directed the first three films and wrote the fourth film in the Hotel Transylvania series and is currently directing two adult animated films for the studio, Fixed and Black Knight. Additionally, he was a pivotal crew member of The Powerpuff Girls and worked on other series such as 2 Stupid Dogs and Batman: The Animated Series. Tartakovsky is well known for his unique animation style, including fast-paced action and minimal dialogue. Throughout his career, Tartakovsky has won five Emmy Awards, three Annie Awards, one WAC Winner, one OIAF Award, and one Winsor McCay Award, among other nominations for his works.

Photo of Lev Kuleshov

7. Lev Kuleshov (1899 - 1970)

With an HPI of 60.70, Lev Kuleshov is the 7th most famous Russian Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.

Lev Vladimirovich Kuleshov (Russian: Лев Владимирович Кулешов; 13 January [O.S. 1 January] 1899 – 29 March 1970) was a Russian and Soviet filmmaker and film theorist, one of the founders of the world's first film school, the Moscow Film School. He was given the title People's Artist of the RSFSR in 1969. He was intimately involved in development of the style of film making known as Soviet montage, especially its psychological underpinning, including the use of editing and the cut to influence the emotions of audience, a principle known as the Kuleshov effect. He also developed the theory of creative geography, which is the use of the action around a cut to connect otherwise disparate settings into a cohesive narrative.

Photo of Vsevolod Pudovkin

8. Vsevolod Pudovkin (1893 - 1953)

With an HPI of 60.63, Vsevolod Pudovkin is the 8th most famous Russian Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 41 different languages.

Vsevolod Illarionovich Pudovkin (Russian: Всеволод Илларионович Пудовкин, IPA: [ˈfsʲevələt ɪl(ː)ərʲɪˈonəvʲɪtɕ pʊˈdofkʲɪn]; 28 February 1893 – 30 June 1953) was a Soviet film director, screenwriter and actor who developed influential theories of montage. Pudovkin's masterpieces are often contrasted with those of his contemporary Sergei Eisenstein, but whereas Eisenstein utilized montage to glorify the power of the masses, Pudovkin preferred to concentrate on the courage and resilience of individuals. He was granted the title of People's Artist of the USSR in 1948.

Photo of Leonid Gaidai

9. Leonid Gaidai (1923 - 1993)

With an HPI of 58.86, Leonid Gaidai is the 9th most famous Russian Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 57 different languages.

Leonid Iovich Gaidai (Russian: Леони́д Ио́вич Гайда́й; 30 January 1923 – 19 November 1993) was a Soviet and Russian comedy film director, screenwriter and actor who enjoyed immense popularity and broad public recognition in the former Soviet Union. His films broke theatre attendance records and were some of the top-selling DVDs in Russia. He has been described as "the king of Soviet comedy".

Photo of Elem Klimov

10. Elem Klimov (1933 - 2003)

With an HPI of 58.75, Elem Klimov is the 10th most famous Russian Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.

Elem Germanovich Klimov (Russian: Элем Германович Климов; 9 July 1933 – 26 October 2003) was a Soviet and Russian filmmaker. He studied at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematograph, and was married to film director Larisa Shepitko. Klimov is best known for his final film, Come and See (Иди и смотри), which follows a teenage boy in German-occupied Byelorussia during World War Two and which received a universal acclaim. His work also includes black comedies, children's movies, and period dramas.

People

Pantheon has 74 people classified as Russian film directors born between 1861 and 1991. Of these 74, 23 (31.08%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living Russian film directors include Nikita Mikhalkov, Andrei Konchalovsky, and Genndy Tartakovsky. The most famous deceased Russian film directors include Andrei Tarkovsky, Konstantin Stanislavski, and Vsevolod Meyerhold. As of April 2024, 17 new Russian film directors have been added to Pantheon including Alexandre Volkoff, Lev Atamanov, and Mikhail Kozakov.

Living Russian Film Directors

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Deceased Russian Film Directors

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Newly Added Russian Film Directors (2024)

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Overlapping Lives

Which Film Directors were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Film Directors since 1700.