A commercial success of stellar proportions upon its original USSR release, Richard Viktorov’s To the Stars by Hard Ways (the Russian title, Через тернии к звёздам (Per Aspera Ad Astra), translates literally as “Through the Ticket to the Stars”) became a cult hit amongst Russian hipsters in the post-Soviet period. We’re screening the restored, re-edited “new version” made in 2001 under the supervision of the late director’s son. “The Starship Pushkin, boldly going where no man has gone before, finds an abandoned vessel in deep space filled with the decaying bodies of humanoids. There is, however, one surviving member of the crew, a gynoid named Niya (an eye-popping performance by Yelena Metyolkina), who seeks the help of earthlings to restore her now severely polluted home planet of Dessa to its natural splendour. Richard Viktorov’s collaboration with sci-fi writer Kir Bulychyov has undeniable camp appeal, with its abundance of mod leisure-wear outfits, cosmic mercenaries, and bionic women (not to mention a humanoid midget capitalist, the villain responsible for running Dessa into the ground). The footage from the film is edited by David Dean Burkhart and the song is Like the moon from Future Islands.