Kino Lorber has acquired all U.S. rights to Aleksei German’s “Hard to Be a God,” a 170-minute medieval sci-fi epic based on a classic novel by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.
Shot in black-and-white,”Hard to Be a God” takes place on the planet of Arkanar, which is in the middle of a period of violence, filth, and crudeness: its own Middle Age. The local population is suffering from a ban issued on anyone who can read and write, and those who resist are brutally punished and killed.
Don Rumata (played by Leonid Yarmolnik) is a scientist sent to examine the Earth-like planet. Coming from a culturally advanced world, but there disguised as a noble-born bastard, Don Rumata is rumored by the locals to have a God as one of his ancestors. Rumata does what he can to save the local intelligentsia, but is ultimately forbidden from interfering in the development of Arkanar.
The film has been in the making since the 1960s, but has its authorization revoked in 1968 after an uprising in Prague. German finally began shooting in 2000, and died on February 21, 2013, at the age of 74.
“Hard to Be a God” is slated for an exclusive two-week run at New York’s Anthology Film Archives beginning on January 30. Kino Lorber will book the film in other art house theaters through the first quarter, before releasing it on digital and VOD platforms nationwide.