Russian Voices Film Series
During the fall of 2013, our focus at the Center for the Study of Europe is on Russia. The Russian Voices Film Series is intended to complement the forthcoming Russian Voices Symposium and Philosophical Cabaret. The poets, musicians, and filmmakers featured in the series are each, in their own way, engaged in re-thinking oppositions such as ”classic vs pop,” ”serious vs. light,” ”official (Soviet) vs. dissident,” ”national vs. international,” and ”mainstream vs. alternative” in the Russian culture of the late 20th century and in re-contextualizing these oppositions in the 21st century via unorthodox and innovative genres, linking poetry to theater, music and performance art. The Russian Voices program is being organized in the context of a larger “European Voices” series, which is funded by the European Commission Delegation. It addresses similar questions of language, culture, nation, history, and the role of the artist in society, and targets a similar broad audience of students, faculty, and members of the public.
The Russian Voices Film Series is jointly sponsored by the Center for the Study of Europe and the Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature, which welcomes two new Russian language faculty this fall: Yuri Corrigan, Assistant Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature, and Olga Livshin, Lecturer in Russian.
Monday, September 30 @ 6 PM
Film Screening: Stilyagi (“Hipsters”)
Featuring an all-starcast, dynamic script and slick cinematography, Stilyagi takes the viewer on an epic joy ride through 1955 Moscow, two years after Stalin’s death. At the height of the Cold War in the Soviet Union, the titular stilyagi were a bunch of Western-oriented hipsters who loved jazz, exhibited questionable morals and enjoyed dressing with style. Mels (Anton Shagin), a seemingly brainwashed member of the Communist youth group Komsomol, falls in love with Polza (Oksana Akinshina) while raiding an illegal underground nightclub . Polza invites Mels to join her and her friends on “Broadway” and Mels is dumbfounded when he shows up to the party dressed plainly and looking apologetic. Striving to win Polza’s attention, Mels utimately abandons Komsomol and joins the stilyagl, chasing after Polza comically throughout the rest of the film as he learns to play the saxophone, dance jazz,and dress like a movie star.
Introduced by Anna Winestein, Visiting Researcher, Center for the Study of Europe
Monday, October 21 @ 6 PM
Film Screening: Svadba (“The Wedding”)
In a small mining village near Moscow the wedding of Michka and Tania is being prepared. Tania, Michka’s child love, is back from Moscow. In the family of Michka, this wedding does not delight anybody. The father, hero of the village, sees all the guests he’ll have to feed. The grandfather sees, him,with an evil eye “this creature” entering the family and the mother cries for the fate of her son. But the wedding starts, without money, maybe without bride… A true spectacle where all is possible, whereas worst or best, where the limits vanish, where the drama is as close as happiness.
Pavel Lungin: This project was born from questions which torment me and for which I have no answers. How does the Russian people survive in year 2000 ? I do not speak about great misfortunes : war, the Maffia or the corruption, but about the everyday life. What became the family, love, childhood, friendship ? Did people change ? Can they change ? I’ve desired to paint through situations sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, the collective portrait of a mining provincial town, that of Lipki, a small borough 200 kilometers from Moscow. There, the time seems to be stopped : socialism era is over and the new life hasn’t started yet. The main actors are surrounded by the inhabitants of Lipki, images of these people forgotten by their government, the artists and the whole world. These million Russians lost in the middle of their country. The main character of film, Michka, is ingenuous, “idiotic” in the sense of Dostoïevski, someone for whom sacrifice is as natural as breathing. In Russia, a proverb says : “Without a right man, a village cannot exist.” This is the key sentence of this film, because as long as in Russia the force and the kindness of people like Michka will remain, this country will always have forces.
Introduced by Yuri Corrigan, Assistant Professor of Russian & Comparative Literature.
Monday, October 28 @ 6 PM
Film Screening and Director Talk: “My Perestroika” with Robin Hessman
Reception to follow
Join us for a screening of My Perestroika and a conversation with Director, Producer, and Cinematographer Robin Hessman. My Perestroika follows five ordinary Russians living in extraordinary times — from their sheltered Soviet childhood, to the collapse of the Soviet Union during their teenage years, to the constantly shifting political landscape of post-Soviet Russia. Together, these childhood classmates paint a complex picture of the dreams and disillusionment of those raised behind the Iron Curtain. [More about the film]
Robin Hessman graduated from Brown University with a dual degree in Russian and Film. She received her graduate degree in film directing from the All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in Moscow (with a “red diploma” of honors). She received an Academy Award® in 1994 – with co-director James Longley – for their student film, Portrait of Boy with Dog. During her eight years living in Russia, Robin worked for the Children’s Television Workshop as the on-site producer of Ulitsa Sezam, the original Russian-language Sesame Street. [More about Hessman]