Fedor Ozep (1895-1949)

From Russia to the United States
Fedor Ozep (Fyodor Otsep) was born in Moscow and was still a student when his adaptation of Pushkin’s The Queen of Spades was filmed by Yakov Protazanov in 1916. He went on to spend his entire life in the cinema.

After spending a few years as a scriptwriter, Ozep began directing films in 1926. His first Soviet films were made in collaboration with Boris Barnet and the actress Anna Sten, who would later pursue a career in Hollywood. Then, after 1928, he made several films in Germany, including an adaptation of Fedor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. In 1933, however, fearing the Nazis, who had just taken power, he moved to France, where he shot five films in six years. When the Second World War broke out in 1939, he along with many other foreigners in France was arrested. Freed a year later, he went to Morocco and from there to the United States, where in 1943 he shot Three Russian Girls, a celebration of Allied friendship through the story of a love affair between an American pilot and a Soviet nurse.

Canadian Interlude
Charles Philipp, the founder of Renaissance Films, was looking for experienced film-making personnel. Some of them he hired in the United States. He then recruited Ozep, whom he probably met in France, to direct Le père Chopin. The film was a great success, thanks in part to the dramatic atmosphere that Ozep was able to create.

Soon afterwards, he was hired by Paul L’Anglais to shoot La forteresse / Whispering City, the first film made by Québec Productions. Because of distribution problems, it was not as successful as had been hoped. This didn’t stop Ozep from trying to re-launch his Hollywood career, but he died suddenly in 1949.