A respected Russian film director often sited by his contemporaries for his remarkable professionalism, Mikhail Ptashuk's films were often marked by frequent introspective journeys into the psychology of their protagonists and a recurring theme of Belarusian nobility during the Great Patriotic War. Born in the village of Feduki in the Lyakhovitskiy district, Ptashuk graduated from the Shchukin Moscow theater school before enrolling in directors' courses at the U.S.S.R. State Cinema and ultimately settling behind the camera in 1974. Later named a People's Artist of Belarus and winning the State Prize of the Republic of Belarus for his work, Ptashuk's enduring career resulted in more than 30 films including such efforts as Sign of Misfortune (1986), Game of Imagination (1995), and his final film, In August of 1944 (2001). In late April 2002, the world lost an enduring contributor to international cinema following Ptashuk's untimely death resulting from an automobile accident in Moscow. He was 58.