The Frida Cinema

Orange County's Year-Round Film Festival

Ivan’s Childhood

Revisit the darkest days of World War II with Ivan’s Childhood, Andrei Tarkovsky’s mercenary debut feature film and the fourth entry in our Soviet September series.

Adapted from Vladimir Bogomolov’s 1957 short story “Ivan”, Tarkovsky’s film tells the story of 12 year old Ivan Bondarev. Taken in by a Soviet Army outfit on the frontlines, Ivan performs non-combat recon missions due to his small size and ability to blend in. But with the Nazis advancing closer and closer, Ivan’s role is reconsidered by Soviet officers wrestling with the existential questions of war and humanity.

Made when Tarkovsky was only 29 years old, the film would be his first of several collaborations with cinematographer Vadim Yusov (Andrei Rublev, Solaris). An astonishing wartime psychodrama, Ivan’s Childhood remains as vibrant and mature as any of the director’s later master works.

The Frida Cinema is proud to partner with our friends at South East European Film Festival (SEEFest) to present Soviet September, a series of nine acclaimed films representing six decades of cinema from the former Soviet Union (1922 – 1991).


“A phenomenon, astonishing, unrepeatable, and beautiful…I would have done nothing if there hadn’t been Ivan’s Childhood.”  – Georgian filmmaker Sergei Parajanov

“In reality, the lyricism of the film, its laboured skies, its tranquil waters, its innumerable forests, are the very life of Ivan, the love and roots that were denied to him, this is what he used to be, what he still is without ever being able to remember it, what the others see in him, around him, what he himself can no longer see.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

“More than twenty years after the director’s death, the unassuming Ivan’s Childhood remains one of his most beloved films, and perhaps his most accessible. Those who know the director’s later work take particular pleasure in revisiting Ivan’s Childhood again and again, as it provides ample opportunity to see the early stirrings of Tarkovsky’s genius.” – Dina Iordanova, Criterion