Female Networks in Silent Soviet Filmmaking? - Lilja Brik as a Filmmaker next to her Contemporaries

by Adelheid Heftberger (German Bundesarchiv)

Abstract: Lilja Brik is little known for her work as a filmmaker, which comprises circa three films on which she worked in various positions, with the most famous being the compilation film The Glass Eye (1929). However, her image seems to be well established even within the scholarly community, based only on anecdotes, personal writings and opinion. Brik as an author remains invisible because a close reading does not reveal an identifiable style which can be attributed to her as a (female) filmmaker. I argue that methods of formal analysis are less suited for the analysis of Brik’s work, specifically as a female filmmaker. Such an analysis has to be supported by a critical reading of biographical writings and the analysis of her own unrealised projects. In this context, it is worth exploring Brik within the network of other female filmmakers of that time, for example, Esfir Shub or Elizaveta Svilova.

Adelheid Heftberger is Head of Film Access at the German Bundesarchiv. Her research focuses on Russian/Soviet Avant-Garde Cinema, Archival Studies, Information Sciences, Visualization of Filmic Structures and Film Historiography. She is the author of Digital Humanities and Film Studies: Visualising Dziga Vertov's Work.