Monthly Archive: November 2001

Imaginary Homelands

Irina Sandomirskaja: Kniga o rodine. Opyt analiza diskursivnykh praktik [A Book About Home. Analysis of Discursive Practice]. Vienna 2001 (Wiener Slawistischer Almanach, Sonderband 50)

The changing face of Russian Rodina (meaning so much ore than just “motherland”) is maybe best exemplified by two photographs of Moscow’s landmark, St Basil’s Cathedral. The first was taken in 1978 during the period of stagnation, when rodina and its complementary terms otetchestvo (“fatherland”) and otchizna (“homeland”) had sunken to the status of clichés in the repressive discourse of the time.(Photograph by Mark Martin.)

Still, according to Baudrillard, the repressive … Read more

How to Qualify for Postcolonial Discourse

Here are the two typical conversations about Russia between a person living outside of it (A) and a person living inside of it (B):

1) A: “Everything here is like in the West (finally).” B is offended.

2) A: “Nothing here is like in the West (still).” B is offended.

Note that B is offended whatever A’s attitude may be, approving or critical, and whoever A is, a former Soviet émigré, a never-Soviet American, or a happy post-Russian Estonian.

Generally speaking, any cultural dialogue on Russia fits into these two models, and a dead end is only more or less … Read more

“Khrustalev, My Car!”, Dir. Alexei German (Russia, 1998) and “Taurus”, Dir. Alexander Sokurov (Russia, 2000)

Recent Russian films on historical themes have been concerned above all with the end of things. For instance, Gleb Panfilov’s The Romanovs: Crown-Bearing Family (2000) looked at the Russian royal family’s final years, culminating in their massacre in 1918, and suggests that those really responsible for their demise were not the Bolsheviks (mere blunt instruments of history), but the royal generals,disillusioned with the Tsar because of his increasing reluctance to prosecute an unwinnable war. German and Sokurov also revisit the past, but without the agenda Panfilov espouses (rehabilitation of the royal family as martyrs for Holy Russia). Rather, these are … Read more

Love and Other Nightmares [Ljubov’ i drugie kosmary]. Dir. Andrej Nekrasov (Russia, 2001)

Apart from the pun in the title (in Russian lyubov means love, but it’s also a woman’s name), some will admire the mega metafilmic framework of this film, while others may be irritated by its contortions.

The metafilm collides with a sci-fi plot. Alex, the only male character, is conducting an experiment in videoed dream-projection. He is consistently behind the camera: a modern entrepreneur in New Russia who speaks English with a Russian accent, he sets out to recruit women to dream about.

Women provide the material of both Alex’s experiment and the film itself, from the Western nightclub girl … Read more

“Tender Age”, Dir. by Sergei Soloviev (Russia, 2001)

Tender Age was produced by TriTe, Nikita Mikhalkov’s film production outfit. The script was written by Sergei Soloviev and his son Dmitri Soloviev, who also plays the main part in the film.

The film is, as most of Soloviev’s recent film, subdivided into episodes, which in turn have numerous intertitles that ironically reflect on the storyline. Here, the three parts are entitled: Idiot, Fathers and Sons, and War and Peace.

The film explores the fate of a generation of the children from families of with and elite status (party workers, foreign office civil servants, etc.) at … Read more

Editorial: Letter From Moscow

The high season of film festivals is over for the year 2001, and after a long ‘low’ of international starts at Russian film festivals, the Moscow Film Festival (June 2001) could boast with the presence of Jack Nicholson, while the Sochi International Film Festival (June 2001) presented Jean-Claude van Damme and Ornella Muti.

The fate of Russian films at international festivals, however, leaves much to be desired: there was no Russian entry in the Moscow Film Festival, and none in the main competition in Venice (September 2001). Sergei Bodrov’s (sr) The Quickie, made in the US, was shown in

Read more