Comissar

Russia, 1967 – released 1988
Russian w/ English subtitles  >> play the trailer

A work of considerable artistic merit, Aleksandr Askoldov’s Commissar (Комиссар) is nonetheless most famous on other than artistic grounds. Based on the story “In the Town of Berdichev” by Ukrainian Jewish author Vasili Grossman, it is writer-director Askoldov’s only film.

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Resurrecting the Revolution

 Boris Dralyuk

will speak about his experiences compiling the anthology 1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution (Pushkin Press, 2016) and translating Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry (Pushkin Press, 2014) and Odessa Stories (Pushkin Press, 2016) and read stories from Red Cavalry.

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Shostakovich – From Jewish Folk Poetry

View the
music recording
and our
introduction here.

After his fearsome 1948 condemnation at the hands of the Union of Composers and Stalin’s ‘cultural’ henchman Andrey Zhdanov, Shostakovich was understandably careful about what he composed next and what he revealed in public. His position was undoubtedly dangerous. In the autumn of the same year he compiled a strikingly unusual  song-cycle for three singers and piano: the texts were taken from a collection of Russian translations of Jewish lyrics, mostly originally in Yiddish but one or two Hebrew or Russian; the melodies he created were original but closely related to the style of ‘klezmer’ music which Shostakovich knew and loved. The ensemble of three singers gives almost the feeling of a chamber opera.

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Innocent Saturday – 2011, Mindadze

See the introduction

and Q&A session here.

Screening and talk with the director

We welcome you to a second movie of our guest Alexander Mindadze. This, like the previous one, is based on a true story. As visceral and fragmented as life itself, the story is a dance on the volcano – relentless in style, events and characters.

Set over some 36 hours, the film begins at night, with Valery, an engineer and party official, running desperately to get to Chernobyl, rushing up roads and through undergrowth. The first we hear of events, it seems there have been some containable explosions, but when the camera wanders into a meeting of despairing bigwigs, it emerges that the main reactor has blown – as signaled by an ominous glow in the night sky. Continue reading “Innocent Saturday – 2011, Mindadze”

MY GOOD HANS – 2015, Mindadze

Screening and talk with the director

German with English subtitles. Q&A in Russian, English translation.

It is the spring of 1941. German engineer Hans and his colleagues arrive at a USSR glass manufacturing factory. The Soviet Union is to deliver raw materials to Germany – in exchange for the latest industrial machinery and technologies. It quickly becomes apparent this is not the whole story and both sides have the foreboding of things to come. Yet they meet as people and become friends.

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Alexandra – Александра

Screening

Russia, France – Sokurov, 2009

A Russian grandmother (Galina Vishnevskaya, a famous Russian opera singer) visiting her grandson Denis (Vasily Shevtsov), a sergeant in the Russian army. He’s stationed at a remote Chechen outpost, and from the moment Alexandra arrives, she is out of place. The army base is barren and secluded, a closed system with its own code and structure. This visitor creates an immediate juxtaposition between the outside and the inside, and Sokurov patiently tracks the old woman as she explores the camp, talking to soldiers, and even going beyond its perimeter to the local market, where she befriends some of the occupied people.

(A longer review – rogerebert.com/reviews/alexandra-2008)

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Мать – Mother

Mother – a silent movie by Vsevolod Pudovkin, 1926

Structures shaping into motion, motions reshaping into structure, against each other, so that the whole thing is like a snowstorm rolling down a hill; gathering itself to itself. Which is to say the people to the people, in an effort at once to reshape and portray the reshaped world.

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Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears

Vladimir Menshov (1979)

Moscow of the late ’50s is the initial setting for this movie of three young girls out for love – the upwardly mobile Lyuda (Irina Muravyova), the secure Tonya (Raisa Ryazanova) and the head-over-heels Katya (Vera Alentova). The film re-engages the trio 20 years later, focusing on their varied life changes.

John Bush for allmovie.com


Москва пятидесятых годов. Три молодые провинциалки приезжают в Москву в поисках того, что ищут люди во всех столицах мира — любви, счастья и достатка. Их судьбы складываются именно так, как предполагает характер каждой из девушек.

 

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HEAVY WATER – Mario Petrucci

On April 26th, 1986, reactor four at Chernobyl nuclear power station explodes, sending an enormous radioactive cloud over Northern Ukraine and neighbouring Belarus. The danger is kept a secret from the rest of the world and the nearby population who go about their business as usual. May Day celebrations begin, children play and the residents of Pripyat marvel at the spectacular fire raging at the reactor. After three days, an area the size of England becomes contaminated with radioactive dust, creating a ‘zone’ of poisoned land.

 

Feature
On his page ⇒

Introduction
On Atomic TV ⇒

Trailer
On Youtube ⇒

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