CSULB Russian Film Club to Host Russian Documentary Film Series Beginning March 1

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CSULB The Russian Film Club

Filmaker Marina Goldovskaya

The Russian Film Club at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) will present a series of films with the theme “Russia Through the Documentary Lens,” beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 1, in Room 384 of the campus’ Academic Services (AS) Building.

The opening film of the series is 2008’s “Svetlana about Svetlana,” a 44-minute documentary directed by Lana Parshina about the daughter of Soviet ruler Joseph Stalin.  Introduced by CSULB Russian Studies Professor Harold Schefski, the film discusses its subject’s childhood, her mother’s suicide, her doomed brothers Vassily and Yakov and the father seen by the Soviet Union as a “living god.”

The series continues Thursday, March 8, with a viewing of “The Russian Concept,” a 56-minute documentary directed in 2009 by Igor Sopronenko and introduced by CSULB History Professor Andrew Jenks.  The film explores art created in resistance to the government-imposed style of Socialist Realism from the 1950s to the 1980s.

The series concludes Thursday, March 15, with “The House with Knights,” directed in 1993 by distinguished Russian filmmaker Marina Goldovskaya.  This 58-minute film, introduced by CSULB Geography Professor Dmitrii Sidorov, tells the story of a historic apartment located on Moscow’s Arbat Street that in a way housed the entire history of the Soviet Union.

All three screenings begin at 7 p.m. in AS 384 and admission is free.  More information is available by contacting Russian Club President Emily Feliciano at csulbrussian@gmail.com

Goldovskaya’s movie is also part of the spring 2012 California Russian Documentary Film Festival on Sunday, March 18, that will screen three of its titles from 2 to 7 p.m. in the Carpenter Performing Arts Center.  The festival is part of the campus’ current B-Word Project initiative.  This special event will include a talk by Goldovskaya, a screening of her latest film, “A Bitter Taste of Freedom,” and a panel discussion.  Admission is free.

Goldovskaya, one of best internationally known woman directors and a professor at the UCLA School of Film and Television, was the first Russian filmmaker to introduce a personal diary style in the documentary genre to describe the social changes and their effects on the lives of the people. “A Bitter Taste of Freedom” uses this style to profile the career of journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya , known for her opposition to the Chechen conflict, who was shot and killed on Oct. 7, 2006, at the age of 46.

Another Russia-related documentary, “The Desert of Forbidden Art,” will be screened in the Carpenter Center as part of the B-Word Project and the festival on Saturday, March 10, at 8 p.m.  This films focuses on banned Soviet art rescued in a museum in the desert of Uzbekistan, far from the watchful eyes of the KGB.  Following the screening, directors Amanda Pope and Tchvdar Georgiev will discuss the film and answer questions.

“Banned, Blacklisted and Boycotted: Censorship and the Response to It (The B-Word Project)” is an 18-month campus-wide initiative, running through December 2012.  It presents performances and other activities to stimulate wide-ranging discussions that examine what happens when a voice—whether in artistic endeavors, journalism, scientific research or other areas—is stifled through governmental, commercial, or social restraints.

The California Russian Documentary Film Festival is organized by the California Russian Foundation, which seeks to enhance understanding and appreciation for Russian culture through educational and charitable activities and to promote interaction and cooperation among members of the public who share an interest in Russia.

Sidorov, a series organizer, is pleased with the festival.  “These are the kinds of films that almost never get a commercial run, even in Russia itself, remaining in the shadow of large Hollywood productions,” he said.  “Plus, they are from a country once feared in the Cold War, yet now it is the source of high-quality films.”

Sidorov encourages film fans to attend both the club film series and the March 10 and 18 events at the Carpenter Center. “This is a chance to see very rare films accompanied by their filmmakers and discussed by CSULB faculty members,” said Sidorov.  “These are high-quality events.”

More information on the March 10 screening and the California Russian Documentary Film Festival can be found on the B-Word Project website.

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