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Pitt and Pittsburgh Filmmakers to Host
17th Annual Russian Film Symposium
May 4 – May 9

The University of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Filmmakers will present the 17th Annual Russian Film Symposium from Monday 4 May to Saturday 9 May 2015, at Pitt’s Oakland campus and Pittsburgh Filmmakers’ Melwood Screening Room at 477 Melwood Avenue. Under the title Red Empire Reloaded, the Russian Film Symposium offers a unique chance to view both classic and recent feature films that examine the Soviet past and Russian present in the context of its shifting preoccupation with imperial identity.

The Russian Federation is quickly approaching the “silver anniversary” of the Soviet collapse (25 December 1991). Cinema in the final years of the USSR was dominated by documentary films that re-examined and filled in the “blank spots” of the empire’s history. Russian cinema of the past twenty-five years, by contrast, has been marked by the dominance of feature films, many of which are dramatic re-examinations of the major events in the seventy years of Soviet rule. While there is no consistency in the way individual directors represent the Soviet years, virtually all of these films strip away the rosy mystifications characteristic of Soviet depictions of daily life. As a result, these films (inadvertently or deliberately) marginalize the imperial aspirations that had been a defining feature of Soviet history. At the time of its collapse in 1991, Russia, still an imperial structure consisting of fifteen republics comprised several hundred ethnicities and languages. Russia’s incursions in regional disputes in former Soviet territories (Chechnya, Georgia, Moldova, and now Ukraine) over the past decades provides ample evidence that imperial consciousness has not been displaced by nation-building.

The symposium brings well-recognized scholars and critics working in Russian film from Russia and the US. Anton Dolin, journalist, film critic and scholar, is currently working as a radio broadcaster for Russkaia sluzhba novostei and Maiak; he also writes film criticism for the journal Afisha and Afisha-Vozdukh website.  Film scholar Svetlana Ishevskaia is a regular contributor to Khroniki kinoprotsessa; James Steffen, Film and Media Studies Librarian at Emory University, is an historian of Soviet cinema and author of The Cinema of Sergei Parajanov (2013); Khusein Erkenov is a scriptwriter, film director, producer, and a member of the Russian Union of Filmmakers and Russian Guild of Directors; Valeriia Gorelova is a senior research scholar in the historical-theoretical section of the State Institute for Cinema Studies (VGIK), as well as a film reviewer for the Moscovskii komsomolets newspaper, Iskusstvo kino, Sovetskii ekran and other journals.

From Monday, May 4 to Friday, May 8 the morning (10:00 a.m.) screenings in Room 1500 Wesley Posvar Hall will include five films: Aleksandr Rogozhkin’s war-drama rom-com Cockoo (2002); Nikolai Lebedev’s military drama Star (2002); Mikhail Segal’s wartime love story Franz+Polina (2006); Fedor Bondarchuk’s epic Stalingrad (2013); and Timur Bekmambetov and Gennadii Kaiumov’s thriller Escape from Afghanistan (1994). The three afternoon (2:00 p.m.) screenings in Room 1500 Wesley Posvar Hall on May 4, 5, and 8, respectively, will include: Aleksei Fedorchenko’s mockumentary about a secret Soviet space program First on the Moon (2005); Marina Razbezhkina’s debut feature film Harvest Time (2003); and Pavel Chukhrai’s Stalin-era drama Thief (1997).

From Wednesday, May 6 to Saturday, May 9, the four evening (7:30 p.m.) screenings at Pittsburgh Filmmakers’ Melwood Screening Room include Fridrikh Ermler’s powerful anti-war classic Fragment of an Empire (1929); Aleksei Kott’s visually striking drama The Test (2014); Khusein Erkenov’s provocative historical tragedy Ordered to Forget (20014); and Nataliia Meshchaninova’s gritty drama, set in the northern city of N*, The Hope Factory (2014).

Admission costs for the duration of the Symposium are
$8 regular admission;
$7 seniors and students;
$4 Pitt and Art Institute students.

The Russian Film Symposium is supported by
the University of Pittsburgh Office of the Dean of the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences;
the University Center for International Studies;
the Center for Russian and East European Studies;
the Humanities Center; the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures;
the Cultural Studies Program;
the Graduate Russian Kino Club;
and a grant from the Hewlett Foundation.
Pittsburgh Filmmakers is a co-sponsor of the Symposium.

All films will have English subtitles.
For more information and a full schedule of screenings,
contact Prof. Vladimir Padunov at

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