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campaign image Russische Dooi

Russische dooi

Soviet New Wave (1957 – 1968)

still from The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, SU 1957)
still from The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, SU 1957)

Khrushchev denounced the terror of the Stalin era (estimated victims: 15 million dead) and created space for intellectual and cultural life. Leisure and innovation followed periods of censorship and repression; more films were produced and the climate for filmmaking became more liberal and vital. Established filmmakers dared to experiment again and Moscow’s VGIK film academy produced a new generation of talented cineastes.

Russia, 2021: in the wake of Putin’s latest election victory, reforms seem further away than ever. How different things were in the late 1950s, when Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet Union’s new leader following the death of Stalin, gave an impulse for change. This period, which came to be known as the ‘thaw’, gave rise to classics such as Ballad of a Soldier (1959, Grigorii Chukhrai) and The Cranes Are Flying (1957, Michail Kalatozov); a new generation of filmmakers (Tarkovsky, Shepitko) also stepped into the spotlight.

still from Letter Never Sent (Mikhail Kalatozov, SU 1960)
still from Letter Never Sent (Mikhail Kalatozov, SU 1960)
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campaign image Russian Thaw
still from Walking the Streets of Moscow (Georgiy Daneliya, SU 1963)
still from Walking the Streets of Moscow (Georgiy Daneliya, SU 1963)

The thaw resulted in classics such as Grigorii Chukhrai’s Ballad of a Soldier (1959) and Michail Kalatozov’s The Cranes Are Flying (1957). Directors such as Marlen Khutsiev (I Am Twenty) and screenwriter Gennady Shpalikov (Walking the Streets of Moscow) abandoned historical or party political themes and focused instead on the lives of young Russians in contemporary Moscow.

still from I Am Twenty (Marlen Khutsiev, SU 1964)
still from I Am Twenty (Marlen Khutsiev, SU 1964)

Heroic

It also became possible to represent World War II – the major theme of Soviet cinema, with the emphasis firmly on the heroic sacrifices made by the Russians in the Great Patriotic War – as an individual, instead of a collective, experience.

still from Ballad of a Soldier (Grigory Chukhray, SU 1959)
still from Ballad of a Soldier (Grigory Chukhray, SU 1959)
still from Wings (Larisa Shepitko, SU 1966)
still from Wings (Larisa Shepitko, SU 1966)

This same period also sees the first appearances of names we will get to know much better later, such as Andrei Tarkovsky, Larisa Shepitko, and Andrei Konchalovsky. The thaw also brought opportunities to filmmakers outside of the Russian Republic, such as Kira Muratova from Ukraine, Otar Iosseliani from Georgia, and the Georgia-born Armenian Sergei Parajanov.

Lectures, restorations

The screenings will be introduced by experts on Soviet cinema including Eye curator Mark Paul Meyer, and Otto Boele, senior lecturer in Russian Studies at Leiden University.

still from Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (Sergei Parajanov, SU 1964)
still from Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (Sergei Parajanov, SU 1964)
still from The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, SU 1957)
still from The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, SU 1957)

New digital restorations of The Cranes Are Flying and Letter Never Sent (Michail Kalatozov, 1960) can be seen from 2 December in Eye and other cinemas.

Eye Film Player

Three related films will be able to watch on the Eye Film Player.

Visit the Eye Film Player

900 Days (Jessica Gorter, NL 2011) about the siege of Leningrad during WWII (Best Dutch Documentary, IDFA 2011).
Aliona van der Horst's deeply moving documentary Love is potatoes (NL 2017), about her Russian family and life under Stalin (Best Long Documentary, Netherlands Film Festival).
Andrei Tarkovsky's first feature Ivan's Childhood (SU 1962, Golden Lion Venice Film Festival).

still from Ivan's Childhood (Andrej Tarkovski, SU 1962)
still from Ivan's Childhood (Andrej Tarkovski, SU 1962)
poster Russische Dooi: Sovjet New Wave (1957-1968)

Films, talks & more

still from To Love... (Mikhail Kalik, SU 1968)
still from To Love... (Mikhail Kalik, SU 1968)

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