2001 Evropsk, Russia: Out of European Order

Russia in the twenty-first century occupies a split status vis-à-vis Europe and the US. In cultural terms, Russia unequivocally participates in a European heritage to which it continues to contribute its own distinct national texts. In military, economic, and political terms, however, Russia exists in a different administrative and conceptual space, outside the European order. This contradiction poses challenges for interdisciplinary research, as well as opportunities for productive dialogues with colleagues whose methodological and policy assumptions are firmly embedded in one or the other of these two Russias.

The familiar Cold War binaries (Western vs. Eastern Europes; NATO vs. Warsaw Pact; Common Market vs. Comecon, etc.) have thus been supplanted by a different binary, now internal to the discourse on contemporary Russia in its dual status as European/non-European nation. These debates, as we know from Petr Chaadaev, are not new. The 19th c. paradigm of the Westernizer-Slavophile debate, however, is no more adequate in the context of globalization than the outmoded notion of "symmetrical Europes" in the post-Cold War period.

This discursive schizophrenia around Russia is the focus of the 2001 Russian Film Symposium, "Evropsk, Russia: Out of european Order?" Participants are asked to examine cinematic representations of that nation as redolent of this tension and shifting status. Russia's "split personality," whether a construct of the US-European alliance or internal to the emergent nation itself, has both fascinating and problematic implications for its connections with Europe, as well as for its own sense of mission as a gateway culture for the Caucasus and Central Asia. The (to date) little examined interaction of Russia with these regions may be the beginning of a re-conceptualization of this part of the world, and of Russia's role in defining its position in both global culture and global conflict.

As a focus for this aspect of the discussion, coordinated screenings of four films at Carnegie Museum will be devoted to the theme of Russia and the Caucasus. These will include Vadim Abdrashitov's Time of the Dancer, Sergei Bodrov's Prisoner of the Caucasus, Rustam Ibragimbekov's Family, and Aleksandr Rogozhkin's Checkpoint. Guests of the Symposium will include several film-industry figures, including Rustam Ibragimbekov, best known for his work with Nikita Mikhalkov, and Aleksandr Mindadze, scriptwriter for all Vadim Abdrashitov's films. Scholars and journalists presenting research at the symposium include Ekaterina Degot', Evgenii Dobrenko, Mikhail Iampol'skii, Galina Kabakova, Viktor Matizen, Elena Stishova, Nina Tsyrkun, and Neia Zorkaia.

Schedule

Monday
30 April

Tuesday
1 May

Wednesday
2 May

Thursday
3 May

Friday
4 May

Saturday
5 May

1:00–3:00
David Lawrence 121
Panel: Frames of Reference
10:00–12:30
Oakland Beehive
Solov'ev, The Tender Age
Intro: Zorkaia
10:00–12:30
Oakland Beehive
Erkenov, The Chill
Intro: Stishova
10:00–12:30
Oakland Beehive
Khudoinazarov, Luna Papa
Intro: Iampol'skii
10:00–12:30
Oakland Beehive
Govorukhin, The Voroshilov Shooter
Intro: Dobrenko
11:00–1:00
Oakland Beehive
Round Table Discussion
Larsen and Tsivian
3:30–5:30
David Lawrence 121
Sokurov, Taurus
1:30–4:00
Oakland Beehive
Balabanov, Brother 2
Intro: Matizen
1:30–4:00
Oakland Beehive
Rogozhkin, The Checkpoint
Intro: Tsyrkun
3:00–5:30
Masonic Temple
Iufit, Daddy, Father Frost Is Dead
Silver Heads

Intro: Romero
7:00
Masonic Temple
Iufit, Necrorealist Shorts (1984–1989)
Wooden Room
Intro: Lowenstein
7:00
Carnegie Museum of Art
Ibragimbekov and Mirzoev
The Family
Intro: Ibragimbekov
7:00
Carnegie Museum of Art
Bodrov
Prisoner of the Mountains
Intro: Prokhorova
7:00
Carnegie Museum of Art
Abdrashitov
Time of the Dancer
Intro: Mindadze
7:00
Carnegie Museum of Art
Rogozhkin
The Checkpoint
Intro: McCausland

Evropsk, Russia: A Film Series at
Carnegie Museum of Art

Wednesday, 2 May 7:00 pm The Family
Thursday, 3 May 7:00 pm Prisoner of the Mountains
Friday, 4 May 7:00 pm Time of the Dancer
Saturday, 5 May 5:00 pm Prisoner of the Mountains
7:00 pm The Checkpoint
Sunday, 6 May 5:00 pm Time of the Dancer
7:00 pm The Checkpoint
Wednesday, 9 May 7:30 pm The Family

The Family.
Directed by Rustam Ibragimbekov and Ramiz Hassanoglu Mirzoev.
Azerbaijan, 1998. 95 min

Written and co-directed by Rustam Ibragimbekov (scriptwriter for Burnt by the Sun and The Barber of Siberia), this allegory of the USSR's collapse traces the disintegration of an extended family—several generations, several ethnic backgrounds—in 1990 Baku. Stark realism combines with the exotic; pogroms and violence in the city parallel intrigues within the family. The director will introduce the 2 May screening.

Prisoner of the Mountains.
Directed by Sergei Bodrov.
Russia, 1996. 96 min

Major Russian actors, Oleg Menshikov and Sergei Bodrov. Jr., star as two soldiers who are captured and held hostage by a Chechen villager, whose daughter falls in love with the younger of the two soldiers. Loosely based on Leo Tolstoy's famous story, this contemporary tale is fast-paced and disturbing, raising provocative questions about Russia's role in the Caucasus.

Time of the Dancer.
Directed by Vadim Abdrashitov.
Screenplay by Aleksandr Mindadze.
Russia, 1997. 154 min

Set "somewhere in the Caucasus," this film by a duo of Russia's major filmmakers gives an unusual twist to the war theme, telling a story of three Russian men-two officers and a folk dancer--who decide to settle down in a recently occupied village. The masterful combination of ironic stylization, human drama, and violence explores Russia's imperial ambitions and complex national identity. The scriptwriter will introduce the 4 May screening.

The Checkpoint.
Directed by Aleksandr Rogozhkin.
Russia, 1998. 90 min

Due to a tragic mishap, a group of young Russian soldiers is exiled to a remote outpost in the skirmish-ridden Caucasus, where they spend time drinking, doing drugs, and enjoying sexual favors of a local girl. The shockingly simple style of this film, which avoids both the classic Hero and the moralizing message, underscores the absurdity of the "war mission."

Russian Necrorealist Cinema:
The Films of Evgenii Iufit

Masonic Temple
Fifth Avenue
University of Pittsburgh

Evgenii Iufit

Evgenii Iufit was born in 1961 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

In the early 1980s he began working as a painter and art photographer.

In 1985 he set up the first independent film studio in Russia, MZHALALA FILM, which brought together artists, writers, directors and others sympathetic to radical aesthetic experimentation.

At this studio Iufit made a number of films which have been shown at the world's major film festivals including Montreal, Locarno, Toronto, Rotterdam, and Moscow. His film, Daddy, Frost is Dead, was awarded the Grand Prix at the Rimini Film Festival in Italy. Iufit's paintings and photographs have been shown in major exhibitions of contemporary Russian art since 1985, at the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Kunstahalle, Dusseldorf; Kunstverein, Hanover, and The Museum of Modern Art, Mexico City. Works by Iufit are to be found in museums, galleries, and private collections both in Russia and abroad.

Session 1
Tuesday, 1 May
7:00 pm

Program introduced by Adam Lowenstein

Werewolf Orderlies
Woodcutter
Suicide Monsters
Fortitude
Spring
Knights of Heaven
Wooden Room

Session 2
Saturday, 5 May
5:00--7:00 pm

Program introduced by George Romero

Daddy, Father Frost Is Dead
Silver Heads

Notes on the Films

Werewolf Orderlies (1984), 5 min.

A young sailor descends from a local train. He goes to a nearby forest, which is full of strange men in medical uniforms behaving in an absurd and eccentric manner. The sailor falls under their influence and masochistically gives himself up to them only to be disemboweled by the werewolf orderlies. The sailor's last unconscious image is a "white ship sailing towards the horizon"—a Soviet symbol for happiness and joy.

Werewolf Orderlies is the first of Evgenii Iufit's films in which the necrorealist aesthetics of social grotesque and black humor appear.


Woodcutter (1985), 6 min.

An eccentric and absurd comedy with endless nonstop fighting, chasing, murders, and suicides which are intercut with Soviet symbols of peace and freedom—white doves flying away from the hands of "pioneers"—and documentary footage of the pioneers' everyday lives.


Spring (1987), 10 min.

Spring demonstrates the precision of Yevgenii Iufit's structural and editing techniques. It was conceived as a manifesto of necrorealism.

The film combines intuition, an interest in the unconscious mind, and shock tactics (traditions of the 1920's avant garde) with social issues of Soviet Russia.


Suicide Monsters (1988), 5 min.

The irrationality of the human psyche, sadomasochism, and suicide are the leitmotivs of this film. The documentary footage of airplanes and pilots—symbols of courage and honor—become an unexpected counterpoint to the main structure of the film. The combination of documentary footage and poetic storytelling with sever northern setting reinforce the ascetic atmosphere of Suicide Monsters and give its self-destructive characters heroic and noble appearance.


Fortitude (1988), 3 min.

This three-minute film is about a day in the lives of a group of pacifists hiding from a war tribunal in the basement of a destroyed house and enduring all the difficulties of war with great courage.

Knights of Heaven (1989), 20 min.

A military group of alpinists are selected to carry out a secret mission. The fate of humanity depends on their success. The rules of the mission require the death of each participant once his or her task is accomplished. After killing one of their colleagues and splitting into several groups, the alpinists continue their journey. But the human unconscious doesn't follow military orders. Having once committed murder, the "knights" can't control their desire to kill. They forgot their mission... and kill each other instead.

Father, Frost Is Dead (1991), 73 min.

An experimental work in the necrorealist style, loosely based on Tolstoy's "The Vampire Family."

Siver Heads (1998), 84 min.

The necrorealist science fiction plot involves a team of scientists attempting to cross a human being with a tree, and a special unit dispatched to hunt down the zombie-like mutants created in a previous, failed experiment.

Wooden Room (1995), 65 min.

An experimental black-and-white meditation on the complex, ever-changing relationship between a filmmaker and his subject matter.

The narrative, which is devoid of any conventional plot, seems entirely based on the performers' improvisation. But there are enough clues to suggest that the film is meant as a cautionary tale about artists who get too intimately involved with their material. Indeed, the filmmaker gets so close to his recorded event that at the end he loses all detachment and himself becomes an object and a victim. -- Variety Film Reviews

The program is curated by Masha Godovannaia.

Russian Necrorealist Cinema: The Films of Evgenii Iufit has been made possible with the support of Finnair, the Museum of Modern Art, and Anthology Film Archives.

Russia on the Road: Searching for the Self

Tuesday, 1 May Wednesday, 2 May Thursday, 3 May Friday, 4 May Saturday, 5 May
10:00--12:30 Neia Zorkaia
The Tender Age
Elena Stishova
The Chill
Mikhail Iampol'skii
Luna Papa
Evgenii Dobrenko
The Voroshilov Shooter
[11:00--1:00] Round-table
1:30--4:00 Viktor Matizen
Brother 2
Nina Tsyrkun
The Checkpoint

Participants

Jose Alaniz PhD Candidate, Comparative Literature, University of California at Berkeley. [Bio]
Nancy Condee Associate Professor of Russian and Director of the Graduate Program in Cultural Studies, University of Pittsburgh. [Bio]
Evgenii Dobrenko Reader in Russian, University of Nottingham. [Bio]
Maria Godovannaya Curator, Anthology Film Archives, New York. [Bio]
Seth Graham PhD Candidate in Russian Literature, Cultural Studies, and Film Studies. [Bio]
Mikhail Iampol'skii Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Russian Studies. [Bio]
Rustam Ibragimbekov Filmmaker and Screenwriter. [Bio]
Andrei Khrenov PhD Candidate, New York University. [Bio]
Susan Larsen Assistant Professor of Russian Literature and Cultural Studies. [Bio]
Adam Lowenstein Assistant Professor of English and Film Studies, Associate Director of the Film Studies Program, Univeristy of Pittsburgh [Bio]
Marina Madorskaya Graduate student, Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Michigan. [Bio]
Viktor Matizen Cinema Critic, Novye Izvestiia [Bio]
Gerald McCausland PhD Candidate in Russian Literature and Cultural Studies. [Bio]
Aleksandr Mindadze Screenwriter [Bio]
Vladimir Padunov Associate Professor of Russian. [Bio]
Aleksandr Prokhorov PhD Candidate in Soviet/Russian Film. [Bio]
Elena Prokhorova PhD Candidate in Russian Literature and Cultural Studies. [Bio]
George Romero Film Director. [Bio]
Elena Stishova Associate Professor, Institute of Cinematography, Moscow, Russia. [Bio]
Yuri Tsivian Professor of Film Studies, University of Chicago [Bio]
Nina Tsyrkun Film Critic and Translator, Moscow. [Bio]
Neia Zorkaia Chief Research Scholar, Institute for Art Studies. [Bio]

The success of the scholarly program would not have been possible without the support of the management and staff of the Oakland Beehive. The Beehive has made its space and equipment available to the Russian Film Symposium for two years, for which we are most grateful.

First-time events at Symposium 2001

Springtime for Soviet Cinema:

Alexander Prokhorov, ed.
Springtime for Soviet Cinema: Re/Viewing the 1960s
Pittsburgh, 2001. isbn: 0-9714155-1-X

contents:
Prokhorov, Alexander, "Introduction."
Prokhorov, Alexander, "The Unknown New Wave: Soviet Cinema of "The Sixties."
Margolit, Evgenii, "Landscape, with Hero." trans. Dawn Seckler.

Necrorealism

Seth Graham, ed.
Necrorealism
Pittsburgh, 2001. isbn: 0-9714155-0-1

contents:
Alaniz, José and Seth Graham, "Early Necrocinema in Context."
Mazin, Viktor, "Excerpts from Cabinet of Necrorealism: Iufit and" trans. Maria Jett.
Turkina, Olesia and Viktor Mazin, "Para-Necro-Blockbuster, or Evgenii Iufit and Vladimir Maslov's Silver Heads," trans. Seth Graham.
Demichev, Andrei, "The Autumn of Necrorealism," trans. Seth Graham.

Click the cover for the full text of the booklet.

Revolution within the Revolution:
Soviet Films of the Thaw

May 11-13Mikhail Kalatozov, The Letter Never Sent (1959, 97 min)Mikhail Romm, Nine Days of One Year (1961, 110 min)May 18-20Andrei Tarkovskii, Ivan's Childhood (1962, 96 min)Georgii Shengelaia, Pirosmani (1968, 86 min)May 25-27Gleb Panfilov, No Path Through the Fire (1967, 95 min)Gleb Panfilov, Debut (1970, 91 min)June 1-3Marlen Khutsiev, I Am Twenty/Lenin's Guard (1964/1988, 175 min)Marlen Khutsiev, July Rain (1966, 103 min)June 8-10Larisa Shepit'ko, Heat (1963, 85 min)Kira Muratova, Brief Encounters (1967, 96 min)June 15-17Vitautas Zalakiavicius, Nobody Wanted to Die (1963, 106 min)Mikhail Kalik, Goodbye Boys (1964, 97 min)June 22-24Andrei Konchalovskii, The Story of Asia Kliachina, Who Loved But Did Not Marry (1966, 99 min)Andrei Konchalovskii, The First Teacher (1965, 102 min)

Frames of Reference:
New Graduate Student Research on Russo-Soviet Film

Monday, April 30, 2001
David Lawrence Hall 121
University of Pittsburgh

1 -- 3pm Panel: New Graduate Student Research on Russo-Soviet Film
Marina Madorskaya (U of Michigan)
"Plastic Paragraphs: Isaac Babel for the Movies" [abstract]
José Alaniz (UC Berkeley)
"Dulled Edges: Parade of Planets and the Necrotic Subject of Late Soviet Culture" [abstract]
Andrei Khrenov (NYU)
"Postmodernist Plurality and Chechen Issues in Post-Soviet Cinema" [abstract]
Seth Graham (U of Pittsburgh)
"A Brief American Intervention Regarding The Barber of Siberia" [abstract]
3--5:30pm Screening: Taurus (dir. Aleksandr Sokurov. 2000. 90 min. NO ENGLISH SUBTITLES) With an introduction and discussion
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