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TO AUG. 11
Alexander Ptushko is (a) the Soviet Walt Disney (b) the Soviet Steven Spielberg or (c) the Soviet Ray Harryhausen? Actually, he’s been called all those things, and with good reason. A master of stop-action animation, Ptushko made one of the first animated features, The New Gulliver, in 1935, two years before Disney’s Snow White, and the Soviet Union’s first full-color feature, The Stone Flower, in 1946. The few Americans who saw one of Ptushko’s “fantastikas” during his lifetime (1900-1973) probably didn’t even know it: A crudely adapted version of 1953’s Sadko was released stateside by exploitation-flick czar Roger Corman in the ’60s, renamed The Magic Voyage of Sinbad and featuring dialogue rewritten by a young Francis Coppola. Now Ptushko’s major films have been restored, and Western audiences can really see them for the first time. This program begins with a double bill of The New Gulliver and The Stone Flower (at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 4). The former turns Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels into a visually witty broadside against capitalism, and the latter adapts a folktale about a carver who visits a magical underground world. Also featured are Sadko (at 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10), an account of a Russian adventurer (named Sadko, not Sinbad) who travels through exotic lands both beyond and below the sea, and 1967’s Viy (pictured, at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11), a horror flick in which a priest battles a succession of demons that ooze from the walls of a church. The festival runs to Sunday, Aug. 11, at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 842-6799. (Mark Jenkins)