a film by PJ Letofsky
a documentary adapted from Time Within Time: The Andrei Tarkovsky Diaries (1970-1986)

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Project Description

Logline, Synopsis
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Red Square panaramic view, black and white-2010
Tarkovsky: Time Within Time

a film by by PJ Letofsky
written and directed

Produced by PJ Letofsky and Joan Borsten

Executive Producers Peter Belsito and Oleg Vidov

Film statement

Tarkovsky: Time Within Time is a poetic documentary
into the Life, Love, and Work of Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky
With Oleg Vidov as the 'voice', Andrei Konchalovsky, Marina Tarkovsky, Tonino Guerra, Enrica Antonioni


It was an extraordinary time in Soviet Cinema after Stalin died and Khrushchev granted more openness in the arts.
The son of a renowned poet, Andrei Tarkovsky’s work was filled with a passion for art, literature, and nature.
After graduating the VGIK Film School, Tarkovsky’s first feature ‘Ivan’s Childhood’ won Best New Director
at the 1962 Venice International Film Festival. While developing a film on Dostoievsky, he wrote,
'We must make a film about the man himself, about his personality, his god, his devil, his work'.
We use this storytelling method.

By using his own captivating words, our story is told chronologically and begins with
Tarkovsky’s first diary entry where he gives a brief history Russia’s great literary past-
Dostoivesky, Pushkin, Gogol, and Tolstoy. We come to know the man himself, through his
articulate assessments on love, art, and the struggles working within the Soviet Communist political system.
Of his 7 ambitious films, 5 were made under the heavy hand of censors in the Soviet Union.
He defected in 1984 to Italy with the help of acclaimed screenwriter Tonino Guerra.
He directed 2 films in the West until his untimely death in 1986 at age 54 from cancer.

Narrated by the renowned Russian actor Oleg Vidov, you become mesmerized as if Tarkovsky
himself is speaking to you. Through a collection of rare photos from Marina Tarkovsky (sister),
Tonino Guerra, Andrei Konchalovsky, and Enrica Antonioni, and coupled with
interviews from people who knew him best, we take you on a passionate journey to discover
the life, love, and art of Andrei Tarkovsky in Moscow, Rome, Stockholm, and Paris where he is buried.

Featured Interviews

Andrei Konchalovsky: Producer, Director, and Writer on Tarkovsky's first 3 films
Marina Tarkovsky: Author and sister of Andrei Tarkovsky
Tonino Guerra: Screenwriter, and National Poet of Italy
Natalya Bondarchuk: Actress in Solaris, and Director
Nikolai Burlaev: Actor in Ivan’s Childhood and Andrei Rublev
Enrica Antonioni: wife of Michaelangelo Antonioni

Additional Credits

Oleg Vidov: Actor, and voice of Tarkovsky
Editor: PJ Letofsky
Music: Kubilay Uner
Sound Design: Dan Greenwood

for more online information go here:

hollywood reporter | nostalghia.com | films by jove | tonino foundation |

A brief history of the story

photo is GUM Department Store in Red Square(2010)
GUM Department Store in Red Square, Moscow

Andrei Arsenievich Tarkovsky is widely regarded as one of the top Russian film directors in history.
He gained his precious appreciation for art and literature at an early age thru
his mother and famous poet father Arseny. Tarkovsky distinguishes himself from other
great directors in world cinema through his specific use of poetic logic.
His films are filled with a mixture of his Russian soul-it’s art, literature, culture-,
and nature- rain, fire, water, snow. This imagery affirms his goal ‘to achieve the absolute’
as a director, and to make cinema an art form equivalent with great art works throughout history.
In his diary he writes that ‘Culture is man’s greatest achievement’ and
‘Art affirms all that is best in man- hope, faith, love, beauty, prayer-
what he dreams of and what he hopes for’. These themes are prevalent in all his work.

He began writing his diary ‘Time Within Time’ (Faber & Faber/ London) in 1970 at age 38
when he married his 2nd wife Larissa. In addition to traditional musings in a diary
(family and relationships, daily routines, dreams), he details his consistent battle with
the Soviet political system to make his films- they would refuse to release them
(Andrei Rublev), and insist on changes (33 to Solaris). He met Tonino Guerra, the Italian screenwriter,
and working together they got Andrei to Italy to make Nostalghia. After it won 3 awards in Cannes,
Tarkovsky and Larissa chose to remain in the west, defecting in 1984.
The Soviets held their 9 year old son Andrei Jr hostage, refusing to let him join them.

Andrei Tarkovsky

Tarkovsky was torn between his love for Russia and his desire to fulfill his cinematic vision.
This longing for his homeland is evident as he wrote of Nostalghia,
’I wanted the film to be about the fatal attachment of Russians to their national roots,
their past, their culture, their native places, their families and friends; an attachment which
they carry with them all their lives, regardless of where destiny may fling them.’

In December 1985 at the end of filming Sacrifice in Sweden, Tarkovsky was diagnosed with lung cancer.
He spent the last year of his life in Paris, editing Sacrifice from his death bed.
The Soviets, after verifying x-rays of the cancer and imminent death, finally granted
his son Andrei Jr permission to go to Paris. After his passing on December 29, 1986,
his wife Larissa made arrangements to bury him at the Sainte Genevieve Des Bois Cemetery,
a Russian Orthodox cemetery 30 km outside Paris, where 10,000 Russian ex patriots are buried.

The diary chronicles Tarkovsky’s struggles with the Soviet political system,
but also offers his articulate logic behind the creative process, an inspiration to all artists.
Despite his ongoing battle with his angels (art) and demons (the Soviets), overall Tarkovsky’s life
gives us hope in the power of art and culture.  People say that Andrei Tarkovsky was
tormented which inspired his art. He empirically understood that and prophetically wrote:
’Most important of all is the tragedy of the artist’s loneliness. An artist is never free.
An artist is bound by his gift, his vocation. Artistic creation demands of the artist that he
'perish utterly' in the full, tragic sense of those words’.

He also recognized the meaning of humanity:
‘In the end, everything can be reduced to one simple element which is
all a person can count on in his existence, the capacity to love’.

Tarkovsky: Time Within Time

August 18, 1981
excerpt work in progress

for more excerpts go here:
Does God Exist? and Tonino Guerra


Director's Statement

PJ Letofsky explains his passion for making this film

Red Square panaramic view, black and white-2010

Director’s Statement- PJ Letofsky

Andrei Tarkovsky is a very important and significant figure in world cinema
but in the West he remains mysterious and underappreciated.
My mission is to introduce him to a wider audience by using his own words, precisely, from his diary.
The diary enlightens us to the mystery and motivations behind his films.
He lived for his family and his work, torn between his love for Russia and need to create,
and the communist political system. By establishing relationships with the most significant people who knew and worked with Tarkovsky, our audience will experience how this intellectually, culturally,
and spiritually rich artist was inspired, and the struggles he endured working in the Soviet political system.

My grandmother was from Russia and I have always felt a kindred spirit to its people, culture, and history.
While reading Tarkovsky’s diary I felt a very personal bond thru his ability
to articulate how and why the creative process drives him. I was inspired how he
consistently challenged his film making skills over his career. After studying other films made on Tarkovsky,
I felt that none had ‘gotten inside his head’, or had been centered on his voice.
I wanted to make a film that let Tarkovsky ‘speak’ for himself.
I hope to inspire young filmmakers to ‘strive for the absolute’, and to illustrate by his example
that commitment to your vision, and development of your skills is most important.


Key Creative People

Our Team

Key Creative Personnel

PJ Letofsky
Director, Writer, Producer

Born and raised in Minneapolis, PJ studied piano and photography from age 6.
He directed ‘TV Party’, an arts and music cable show (43 episodes), before moving into
features with “Summer Solstice” in 2003. In 2009, Polly’s GlobalWalk was released on
Polly Letofsky’s 5 year walk around the world for Breast Cancer.
The HD documentary was filmed in 24 cities in 6 countries.
An accomplished pianist and composer, PJ had his rock and roll bands
on the road for 10 years, releasing 8 records before moving into film.
He studied film at UCLA and has been producing, directing, editing for 20 years.

Joan Borsten
Joan graduated UC Berkeley and received a graduate degree from USC. In 1973
she became a staff reporter for The Jerusalem Post. Several years later PJ’s father Irv Letofsky,
Entertainment editor of the Los Angeles Times, began sending her on assignments from
Poland to West Africa, and Spain to India. In 1985, she met Oleg Vidov in Rome and returned to LA
where she worked for Carthago Films (“La Traviata”) and Just Betzer Films (“Babette’s Feast”).
In 1988 Joan and Oleg formed Films by Jove Inc., a film production and distribution company,
and in 1992 acquired worldwide rights (excluding the former USSR) to most of the
award-winning animation library of Moscow’s Soyuzmultfilm Studio.

Oleg Vidov

Oleg is the Russian Robert Redford. He has appeared in 50 films since 1961,
some of the most popular Soviet films ever made, which are still regularly broadcast
on Russian television today. His U.S. credits include "Red Heat," "Wild Orchid," and "Thirteen Days."
Tarkovsky was the first person Oleg called when he himself arrived in Rome in 1985,
becoming the first major Soviet actor ever to defect.

Kubilay Uner
Music Composer

Munich-born, L.A.-based composer Kubilay Uner has numerous feature film score credits.
Kubi studied composition with Johannes Fritsch and Klarenz Barlow at the
State Academy of Music in Cologne, Germany; with Mort Subotnick and
Fredric Rzewski at CalArts, and with Luigi Nono at Centre Acanthes in France.
It was at a master class with Maestro Nono in 1989 that Kubi's interest in
the work of Andrei Tarkovsky was sparked - Nono spoke in detail about his
1987 orchestral piece "No hay caminos, hay que caminar... Andrei Tarkovsky"


Key Interviews

Andrei Konchalovsky
is a Director, Writer, Producer, who attended VGIK film school with Tarkovsky,
and they co wrote 7 films together, including Tarkovsky's first 3.

Marina Tarkovsky
his sister and author, explains the family history,
and the influences of their father Arseny Tarkovsky, a distinguished poet.

Tonino Guerra
the renowned Italian screenwriter for Antonioni, Fellini (and many more),
helped get Tarkovsky to Italy to direct films Tempo di Viaggio, and Nostalghia.

Natalya Bondarchuk
starred in ‘Solaris’ at the age of 18.
She first gave the novel ‘Solaris’, by Polish writer Stanislaw Lem, to Tarkovsky at age 13.

Enrica Antonioni

wife of director Michaelangelo Antonioni taught Tarkovsky transcendental meditation
at the Antonioni estate in Sardinia, and is our voice to his spiritualism.

Email us for password access to other specific work samples


Video Excerpts
Watch clips from our work in progress

August 18, 1981- excerpt


more excerpts
Does God Exist? : Tonino Guerra : August 18, 1981


Dom Kino Theater in Moscow Russia- (House of Cinema)