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Soviet Film on Refusenik Honored

A Soviet film, “The Theme,” banned for seven years because it dealt with a Jew’s desire to immigrate to Israel, won the West Berlin International Film Festival’s Golden Bear Award Tuesday.

The film, by Gleb Panfilov, was produced in 1979. Because of its taboo subject it was not released in the USSR until last January, following a shake-up of the Soviet movie bureaucracy.

The story is about a Jewish writer in the Soviet Union who, though successful, decides to go to Israel to escape artistic constraints. At one point the character declares, “I would rather die there (in Israel) of homesickness than here of hatred.”