For the last six or seven months I have been adding many items of news on Russian and Soviet cinema as well as additional items of interest on my Facebook page. (The address for any Facebook users who have yet to 'like' the page is http://www.facebook.com/GiuVivRussianFilm ) Of course, not all readers of this blog have a Facebook page, so I have decided to share some of the links and recent news items that I reported there on this blog too.
Belye Stolby archive film festival : Gosfilmofound opened its 17th festival of
archive film. Like each year it remembered actors and directors who have
died in the course of the past year as
well as celebrating anniversaries. A film collage made in 1928 about
actors from Stanislavsky's celebrated MKhAT theatre marked the 150th
anniversary of Stanislavsky's birth, documentaries from various
countries on the 1943 Teheran Conference marked the traditional section
on World War two chronicle. But perhaps the truly impressive section is
devoted to archival finds. This year a very small fragment of
Eisenstein's 'Bezhin Meadow' was shown for the first time ever. Two
animated films from 1931 - one by the master Tsekhanovsky and another by
Vladimir Suteev. Vladimir Erofeev's 1928 documentary 'Afghanistan'
turned up in Prague and was gifted to Gosfilmofind. 'Belye Stolby' also
managed to gather up 13 minutes of Raizman and Gavronsky's film
'Circle' from 1927. The great imagist poet Vadim Shershenevitch worked
on the script of the film. Another film which, though not a Russian film, had some success at the festival was a film by the documentary film maker Giancarlo Bocchi dedicated to the life of an extraordinary figure Guido Picelli - an anti-fascist fighter, almost like a Che Guevara avant le lettre who placed himself at the head of social and political struggles. He eventually died fighting during the Spanish Civil War but also spent a period in the Soviet Union. He was to experience Soviet repression just as he was to experience the repression from his native Italy to France and Belgium which both expelled him for his participation in social struggles.
Svetlana Baskova's За Маркса (For Marx) is being shown at Berlin. I've written about this film in an earlier blog (and intend to write more on the film). The site Kinote ran an interview with Baskova. In it she talks about the opposition, the so-called creative class, why
there won't be a revolution but a merciless revolt and her move from
the underground actionism of her Зеленный Слонник (Green Elephant) to a
more mainstream cinema. Here's the link in Russian Baskova interview
Political pressure on the documentary world. Just before the Art Doc Fest opened a police raid on the home of one of the directors of the political documentary film Срок (The Term) became headline news in Russia. More recently pressure has been put on the television channel - 24 Doc. I wrote "In another sign of political pressure on
independent television the creative director of Russia's only major
documentary TV channel has not had her contract renewed. There seems
little doubt that this decision was one
that came from the Presidential Administration who put pressure on the
owners 'Rostelekom'. This television channel is the only place where
high quality and often controversial documentary films are shown in
Russia today to , if not a large, then a significant audience. Another
depressing sign of state incursion into the documentary film world after
autumn's police raid on the homes of filmmakers of the political
documentary The Term (Срок) " The article dealing with this in Russian is available here creative director of 24 Doc dismissed
Russia's leading film critic gives his opinion of the 100 films chosen to be shown in Russian schools The proposal that all pupils in Russian schools should be taught about cinema was generally given a positive reception even though with many qualms about how this would be put into practice. A list has since been made up and this is the summary I gave of an article by Andrei Plakhov with regards to these 100 films: "Here is Andrey Plakhov's response to the list
of 100 Soviet films proposed to be taught in Russian schools- a list
which is, in Plakhov's view, extremely conservative from many points of
view- for example choosing three films from Sergei Gerasimov
and not a single film by either Muratova, Pyriev, Balayan or Paradjanov
seems highly absurd. Choosing the 1988 Little Vera as the cut off point
ignores a quarter century of very important names from Sokurov to
Balabanov and Zviagintsev. Leaving out Mimino from the list Plakhov also
sees as a great lost opportunity in a society which has forgotten its
great internationalist traditions and in which xenophobia is flowering.
In short Plakhov declares that the excellent idea of bringing films to classes has
been undermined by the lack of vision of those who have chosen the
films." Here is the original article in Russian Andrei Plakhov on the 100 films
Kira Muratova honoured with a Rotterdam Retrospective. The great Odessan filmmaker Kira Muratova has finally been honoured with a full retrospective of her films at a major film festival, Rotterdam. The festival stated (and I would subscribe to every word): "Kira Muratova is one of the most phenomenal
artists that emerged in Eastern Europe in the past fifty years. What
makes her so unique is that she does not fit with any
institutionalised film tradition or film context except her own ones.
On the contrary: she has always been opposing and breaking every niche
she has been put into. This is one of the reasons why she is not fully
recognised in the festival world and among cinephiles."
Rotterdam festival site on Muratova retrospective.
Alexei Fedorchenko returns to Science Fiction. Alexei Fedorchenko returns to science fiction
after his mockumentary «Первых на Луне» (First on the Moon) to adapt the
Strugatsky's «Малыш» (Space Mowglies). The scriptwriter will be
Mikhail Maslennikov and producer Dimitry Vorobiev. Strugatsky
adaptations from Tarkovsky & Sokurov have become world film
classics in their own right and German's film scheduled, according to
some reports, to be on the screens in April will surely join them. Time
will tell whether Fedorchenko's film will be in that league or in the
league of more mediocre adaptations. Three adaptations of this
particular Strugatsky work have already been made but without particular
success. Fedorchenko to screen Space Mowglies.
Evgeny Margolit's book on Soviet Cinema History Finally Published. For Soviet cinema historians this is surely the news of the decade. Margolit is one of the most inspiring scholars of Soviet film history and the news that he has published a large tome of over 500 pages (after many decades of activity) is welcome news indeed. I wrote on the page A collection of Evgenij Margolit's masterful
essays on Soviet cinema from the 1920s to the 1960s has finally been
published. Incredible that this is his
first published book after 40 years of study in the field of Soviet
cinema. It is, without a doubt, one of the major contributions in the
field for years and, hopefully, will find a translator and a publisher
in various languages. Margolit is a truly wonderful speaker on cinema as
well as the curator of the Socialist Realist avant-garde retrospectives
that ran during a number of Moscow Film festivals. Surely a book that
will become an instant classic in its field.
Naum Kleiman's pessimistic diagnosis on recent Russian cinema. That other great towering figure of scholarship, Naum Kleiman, gave an interview on recent Russian film. I summarized thus A very pessimistic diagnosis - he states that
contemporary Russian cinema no longer exists as a phenomenon (just the
odd film which may be good or bad). He
attributes this to an inability of Russian filmmakers of taking on
responsibility and commitment of portraying post-Soviet Russian society
and its evils (nationalism, chauvinism etc) but also due the lack of any
utopian future perspective in Russian society. Here is the link in Russian Naum Kleiman on contemporary Russian cinema.