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Russian Events NY

Russian Jewish Cinema Program: Stalin Thought of You

As a spry centenarian, Russian cartoonist Boris Efimov (who died at 109) had lived under, and in sometimes frightening proximity to, three consecutive nexuses of power as his country wound through Czarist, Soviet and federal rule. His reluctant connection with the state-sponsored media that employed him to lampoon political targets, including dubiously nominated “enemies of the people,” took its cruelest turn after Stalin ordered the execution of his beloved brother Mikhail Koltsov, inspiration for Karkov in Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. Effectively blacklisted afterward as the relative of a dissident, Efimov was nonetheless spared the Gulags and eventually—through complicated machinations also likely guided by Stalin, who was a great fan of his work—reinstated as Pravda’s top cartoonist. Kevin McNeer’s utterly absorbing peek behind the Red Curtain investigates this complex relationship between Russia’s greatest political cartoonist and the dreaded dictator who earned his tremulous but abiding respect.

*This film is in Russian with English subtitles

Directed by Kevin McNeer

(100min, Russia/Netherlands/US, 2009)

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Russian Events NY

Russian Jewish Cinema Program: Shorts by Regina Maryanovska

Forgotten Fall

At the turn of the twentieth century, Vera Chmeleva was born in France to a prosperous French-Jewish family. Now, at 98-years-old, she lives in Odessa in poverty and loneliness. Vera’s generation is ignored by the state and the ideals for which it fought have lost meaning. Vera remains optimistic despite having to struggle to survive and find her place in a modern society where the market economy reigns supreme. This film offers a fresh perspective on post-Soviet reality, as illustrated by Vera’s life.

Directed by Regina Maryanovska
(20min, Ukraine, 2008)

The Way Home

The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the transition to a capitalist economy has left many of Ukraine’s most vulnerable citizens unprotected. This documentary is a Dickensian and heartbreaking portrait of the street children of Odessa – only some of the tens of thousands of homeless children in post-Soviet countries.

Directed by Regina Maryanovska

(28min, Ukraine, 2010)

Categories
Russian Events NY

Russian Jewish Cinema Program: Room and a Half

The memoirs of anyone living in the USSR from the 1940s to the 1970s would make for fascinating viewing, but when the reminiscences are Joseph Brodsky’s, the result takes on a trenchant lyricism, careening from the jubilantly triumphant to the profoundly melancholic. Using the Nobel Prize-winning poet’s biography as starting point, famed Russian animator Andrey Khrzhanovsky offers a richly imagined blend of fiction and fact, dazzlingly assembled from an array of animated, archival and dramatic images. Reveling equally in Brodsky’s poetry and life, the story winds from recounting a charmed youth despite material challenges—like comically cramped quarters shared with doting parents—to imagining Brodsky’s proposed anonymous return from exile in 1972. Khrzhanovsky’s surrealistic overlaying of Brodsky’s trial transcript with images of anthropomorphized animals, an airborne marching orchestra and Russian soldiers gleefully destroying Culture is defiantly fitting: Brodsky was always as much icon as man, and the tender-hearted egoist would have wanted nothing less.

*Room and a Half is in Russian with English subtitles

Directed by Andrey Khrzhanovsky
(130min, Russia, 2009)

Categories
Russian Events NY

Russian Jewish Cinema Program: Shorts by Regina Maryanovska

Forgotten Fall

At the turn of the twentieth century, Vera Chmeleva was born in France to a prosperous French-Jewish family. Now, at 98-years-old, she lives in Odessa in poverty and loneliness. Vera’s generation is ignored by the state and the ideals for which it fought have lost meaning. Vera remains optimistic despite having to struggle to survive and find her place in a modern society where the market economy reigns supreme. This film offers a fresh perspective on post-Soviet reality, as illustrated by Vera’s life.

Directed by Regina Maryanovska
(20min, Ukraine, 2008)

The Way Home

The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the transition to a capitalist economy has left many of Ukraine’s most vulnerable citizens unprotected. This documentary is a Dickensian and heartbreaking portrait of the street children of Odessa – only some of the tens of thousands of homeless children in post-Soviet countries.

Directed by Regina Maryanovska

(28min, Ukraine, 2010)