The seventeenth annual Russian Film Symposium, “Red Empire Reloaded,” will be held on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh from Monday 4 May through Saturday 9 May 2015, with evening screenings at the Pittsburgh Filmmakers’ Melwood Screening Room.
The Russian Federation is quickly approaching the silver anniversary of the Soviet collapse (25 December 1991). Cinema in the final years of the USSR (Gorbachev’s period of glasnost and perestroika) was dominated by documentary films that re-examined and filled in the “blank spots” of the empire’s history (revisiting Stalinism and the fate of repressed historical figures, rehabilitating major political individuals like Bukharin and Khrushchev, exposing environmental catastrophes, excoriating the invasion of Afghanistan, cataloguing abuses of power by the political elite, etc.). Suddenly, however, the 1991 termination of state financing for film production had the greatest impact on documentary films, which virtually disappeared for the next decade and a half. Continue reading