Monthly Archive: August 2001

Late Night Talks With Mother: New Films from the Karlovy Vary and Plzen Film Festivals

Late Night Talks with Mother (Nocni hovory s matkou). Dir. Jan Nemec (Czech Republic, 2000)

This new film from Czech director Jan Nemec has proved a surprise success at a number of festivals, including Plzen, Karlovy Vary, and Locarno, where it won the main award in the competition for video. It is now scheduled for London, Mannheim, and Rotterdam. Nemec directed such key 60s films as Diamonds of the Night (Demanty noci), The Party and the Guests (O slavnosti a hostech), and Martyrs of Love (Mucednici lasky). He subsequently filmed the Soviet … Read more

Dmitri Meskhiev’s “Mechanical Suite”

Dmitri Meskhiev’s work over the last years has been quite uneven: from the experimental work in his adaptation of Mariengof’s Cynics (1991), his poetic exploration of loneliness in Over Dark Waters (1993) and his short film in Arrival of a Train, entitled “Exercise No. 5” (1995), he chose to move on to more commercial projects. In 1998 he released two films: A Women’s Property, produced by the company “Slovo” (in a project that intended to encourage young directors to work on commercially viable projects rather than indulge in experiments that would never reach an audience, as had partly … Read more

“Moscow”. Dir. Alexander Zeldovich (2000)

The script “Moscow” by the well-known prose writer and conceptualist Vladimir Sorokin (written jointly with A. Zeldovich) explored the emergence of a new language of power, a discourse of the “new Russians” from the splinters of the Soviet monolith and from recollections about totalitarian culture.

According to the script this discourse of a new totalitarianism (that emerged, it seems, on the basis of free enterprise!) has literally been formed in front of our eyes, has absorbed the most colourful characters (Mike, Mark), and has opened the path for a non-entity that covers its facelessness with a multiplicity of faces (Lev).… Read more

Leaving Las Vegas

Since 1996, Dmitri Shalin, who teaches sociology at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, has organized bi-annual festivals devoted to (post-) Soviet culture in the City of Lights, with a varying cast of participants and audiences drawn from all over the country. Last year’s festival (November 19-22, 2000) was entitled Cold War, Hot Culture. Vladimir Paperny and Svetlana Boym present their impressions of the event and throw in a collection of doodles by some of its illustrious participants.

“Poisonous Blankets”

It all started in 1996, when my friend Yuri Neyman and I were sitting on his porch in … Read more

Kira Muratova’s “Minor People”

Minor People. Dir Kira Muratova. Starring Philippe Panov and Natasha Buzko (2001) 

Muratova’s latest film explores the theme of death: in the first scene of the film, we see a doctor attending to a critically ill patient. The reaction of the dying man’s wife sets the tone for Muratova’s approach to text, which functions as a musical accompaniment rather than a conveyor of meaning. The wife reads to the doctor the definition of the terms ‘coma’ and ‘agony’ (his diagnosis) from an encyclopaedia. The doctor hardly needs a reminder of the meaning of medical terms, nor does the wife … Read more

IKEA in Moscow

“Are the prices here given in rubles or in dollars?” -This young man has quite obviously lost it. It is a matter of universal knowledge that IKEA sofas do not cost five-digit figures in US dollars. Clutching my new money tree I remind myself that in Russia anything is possible and get in line at the check-out counter.

It occurs to me that this young man was not even being ironic. Is he so rich that he does not care about the difference between rubles and dollars? Or very poor? Judging by his looks, he could be anything. Probably just … Read more