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Yevgeny Yevtushenko, considered by many to be the most famous living Soviet poet, will host the first U.S. viewing of his new film Stalin's Funeral Saturday evening at the Zellerbach Theatre. Yevtushenko, who is teaching a semester-long course on Russian poetry at the University, is presenting the film as a gift to the University community and, although tickets are required, it is free of charge. A semi-autobiographical film, Stalin's Funeral depicts oppression during Joseph Stalin's 25-year reign over the Soviet Union, culminating in the deaths of thousands of mourners at his funeral in April of 1953. Yevtushenko is depicted in the film as Zhenya, who is a nine year old boy who walks around reciting poetry. Yevtushenko himself acts in the film as a drunken sculptor and the film includes several members of his family. In a New York Times column this year, Yevtushenko wrote that "the hatred was created by Stalin's pact with Hitler and then by mass arrests." "There is silence, half truths, tricks. Not a shadow of regret or repentance," Yevtushenko wrote. "This is the beginning of . . . moral dissolution." Yevtushenko, whose most famous poem Babby Yar confronts anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, has won international acclaim for his 12 books of poetry and two novels. Yevtushenko, a near heroic figure in the Soviet Union, is a representative in the country's Congress of People's Deputies and is an outspoken critic of the conservative regime. "Almost by definition, a Soviet poet is a political poet," Annenberg spokesperson Jon Enriquez said this week. "He has been in trouble before because he opposed some of the totalitarian aspects of Stalin's rule." "Poets in Russia have always been involved in politics because they have often taken stands on important political issues when others have remained silent," Russian History Professor Alfred Rieber said this week. "His poetry in the late 1950's and early 1960's was part of the process of demolishing the cult of Stalin." After the film, Yevtushenko will conclude the evening with a question and answer period. The film, already released in Moscow, will be shown this spring at the Cannes Film Festival in France.

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