Soviet animation at Sands Films

When Nikita Khrushchev in 1956 proclaimed the end of the personality cult of Joseph Stalin, he started a process of political and cultural renewal in the country. Even though animators still needed a while to free themselves from the long tradition of “Éclair”, from the 1960s onwards, animation films gain completely new qualities..

Young animation directors developed their own distinctive styles and approaches in the following years. One of the most political was Andrei Khrzhanovsky, whose surrealist film The Glass Harmonica (1968) was severely cut by censors, but shelved nevertheless. Anatoly Petrov is known as the founder of the cinema journal Vesyolaya Karusel (click for Youtube search) that gave an opportunity to many young directors to make their first own films

(an excerpt from

We recommend the article at
Russia beyond the headlines,
with some of our favourites.

Together with Alex Desyatnik, we have chosen a surprise selection for you. Ranging from artful folly to profound, and sometimes propaganda. Not as crude as Disney, mind. The screening includes about half a dozen short movies, with an introduction and the opportunity for debate between them. Where necessary, the cartoons are subtitled. If you have your own fond memories to contribute, share them with us. We may include them for the next episode.

Whistle Stop – Boris Barnet

“If the silent period showed the flashes of brilliance as well as the unevenness of Barnet’s talent, the next few years would see him produce two worldwide masterpieces that place him as a precursor of French Poetic Realism and the work of Jean Renoir, as well as an influence on the French New Wave through the works of Truffaut, Godard, and Rivette.”

Continue reading “Whistle Stop – Boris Barnet”

July Rain – Marlen Khutsiev

July Rain marked the beginning of a different cinema, far less joyful and optimistic, which lost (or was loosing throughout the decade) illusions and light ideas about reality, cinema ruthless to any illusions and ideas of yesteryear. This cinema was hiding the pungency of its social diagnosis under situations that, on the surface, seemed trivial, everyday, and neutral. Continue reading “July Rain – Marlen Khutsiev”


Marina Tsvetaeva


in the translation of
Angela Livingstone

Marina Tsvetaeva

in the translation of
Angela Livingstone

The burghers of stolid Hamlin are so devoid of any higher urges that even their dreams have become prudent. No one ever asks why, things are homely that way. Then an all-engulfing plague of rats threatens to wipe out this sedateness. Continue reading “THE RATCATCHER”

20 Days Without War

In 1943,

after the Battle of Stalingrad, Lopatin, a Soviet Army veteran and writer, travels home to Uzbekistan discovers how even the false peace of a remote civilian village can be disturbed by the silent echoes of distant battle. Continue reading “20 Days Without War”

Blockade – a documentary by Sergei Loznitsa.

The films of Ukranian director Sergei Loznitsa (b. 1964) are rooted in the rich tradition of avant-garde documentary so central to the history of Soviet cinema. After graduating in 1997 from the intensely selective Russian State Institute of Cinematography in Moscow, Loznitsa directed a series of striking and celebrated short films as a member of the legendary St. Petersburg Documentary Film Studio.

Free of any kind of voice over or explanatory devices, Loznitsa’s short documentaries are instead pure cinematic poems whose subtle arguments are made through careful montage and arresting imagery which captures both the quickening pulse of Russia in the midst of the profound political and socio-cultural transition, and the deeper echoing rhythms of history.

Please visit Sergei Loznitsa’s website for more details on the movie.


Our first film in the series of monthly Saturday screenings of Russian films (with english subtitles), with introductions and discussions in Russian and English.

Hosted by Sands Films.


Natalia Rubinstein, journalist and literary critic, tells about the siege of Leningrad as a phenomenon of the post-war consciousness of Russians and its numerous reflections in literature and cinema. Translation in english: Lyudmila Razumova.