13-06-2011

Socialis Avan-gardizm. Part 4

Probably the more hyped-up a brand is the further it is removed from the initially intended meaning and the more it reveals the meaning of the material itself.
When we compiled the first programs in the series “Socialist Avant-gardism”, our guiding principle was the revolutionary form, which turned out to be synonymous with the form of revolution, aesthetic and social simultaneously. A revolution means going beyond generally accepted norms. From this standpoint the principles of selecting films for the program remain largely the same. It is the departure from accepted canonical norms that unites so dissimilar films in the section. The overthrow of old norms as a new norm is demanded by a revolution from everyone without exception. But every year our program devotes more and more attention to films whose authors go beyond what is generally accepted, guided by their own personal project without insisting that everyone should follow in their wake. That is why practically every film in the present program has a distinct flavor of – so to speak – attractive strangeness. It is noticeable even in examples of “poetic cinema of the 60s”, traditionally included into our program, - debut works of Yuri Ilienko “Spring for the Thirsty” (1965, released in late 80s), Bulat Mansurov “Contest” (1963) and “Daughter-in-Law” (1970) by Khodzhakuli Narliev who was director of photography of all Mansurov’a films of the 60s. The point is that this year we focused not so much on the experiment, on playing with form, as on altering the ways of narration. And then the screen biography of Dostoevsky shot in the infamous style of “vulgar sociologism”, becomes a movie by Meyerhold’s pupil Vasily Fyodorov “Dead House” (1932), an inner monologue of the rebel crushed by the system. While the industrial drama about the reconstruction of mines in Donbass called “Dreamers” (1934) by the completely forgotten scriptwriter and director David Marian turns out to be a series of philosophical dialogues about whether “man exists for the revolution or the revolution exists for man”.
A remarkable effect was achieved by transferring the events of the civil war onto the circus arena in “Two-Buldi-Two” by Lev Kuleshov and “The Last Attraction” by Olga Preobrazhenskaya and Ivan Pravov, which back in 1929 were considered a malicious digression from innovative principles… Or the immersion of a fairly simple and charming everyday-life story into the sultry atmosphere of a southern town in Rezo Esadze’s fantastic “Love at First Sight” (1976)… Or the loneliness of man in the unbearable empty expanses of Russia in “Out of Boredom” (1968), Gorky’s cruel story, brilliantly put to the screen by Artur Voitetsky with the purely Chekhovian intonation… And how smartly Hašek’s biography is turned into an eccentric buffoonery in “Thoroughfare” (1963) anticipating the cinema of Poloka, Motyl, Rasheev… It is hard to imagine that the director is Yuri Ozerov, the future author of “Liberation”, “Soldiers of Freedom” and other pompous “artistic-documentary” epics. Similarly in his directorial debut "Roll-Call” (1966), where the destinies of a tank crew of the Great Patriotic War and a modern cosmonaut are interlaced, Daniil Khrabrovitsky is easily recognized as the author of the classic “Thaw-time” films “Clear Sky” and “Nine Days of One Year” and not as a director of the official films of the ensuing decade “Taming the Fire” and “Poem about Wings”.
Incidentally, many of the “eccentricities” in the movies included in the program are accounted for by the fact that many of them were made by artists who had switched to directing from other arts. It is not only the former cameramen – Ilienko, Narliev, Karen Gevorkian (he is represented not by the famous “A Piebald Dog: Running on the Edge of the Sea” but by his first feature of 1974 “Here, on This Crossroads” which won a prize at the IFF in Manheim in 1974). There are theatre people – Vasily Fyodorov, Anatoly Efros who very accurately interpreted Emmanuil Kazakevich’s novella “Two People in the Steppes” as an existential parable. There is Boris Babochkin, who foretold the aesthetics of the cinema of the early Thaw in his masterpiece of 1944 “Native Fields”. There are literary men: besides Khrabrovitsky there is a great poet of the war-time generation Grigory Pozhenian: in his only directorial work “Farewell” (1966) a war episode is accompanied by a unique poetic commentary in the form of a recitative performed y Mikael Tariverdiev. This “outside” approach to the aesthetics of cinema makes such works especially interesting, definitely unconventional even though amateurish in some ways.
But “strange cinema” inevitably ends up on the roadside of classical mainstream (even if at the time of the release some of its examples were welcomed). It is forgotten for years and then with excitement and amazement we rediscover in it the signs of the cinematic trends of the ensuing decades.
Or even those which are still to become trends. If cinema is capable of remaining a full-fledged art of course.
Evgeniy Margolit

DVA-BULDI-DVA, Lev Kuleshov, Nina Agadzhanova
DVOE V STEPI, Anatoliy Efros
MECHTATELI, David Mar'yan
MYORTVIY DOM, Vasiliy Fedorov
NEVESTKA, Khodzha Kuli Narliyev
PEREKLICHKA, Daniil Khrabrovitskiy
POSLEDNIY ATTRAKTSION, Olga Preobrazhenskaya, Ivan Pravov
PROSCHAY, Grigoriy Pozhenyan
RODNIK DLYA ZHAZHDUSCHIKH, Yuriy Il'enko
RODNYE POLYA, Boris Babochkin, Anatoly Bosulaev
SHUKUR-BAKHSHI, Bulat Mansurov
SKUKI RADI, Artur Voytetskiy
VELKÁ CESTA, Yiri Ozerov
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT, Rezo Esadze
ZDES', NA ETOM PEREKRESTKE, Karen Gevorkyan