Aleksandr Askoldov / SUHH, 1967 / 110 min.
During the Russian Civil War, an iron-willed revolutionary is forced to choose between her baby and the front. The Commissar was shelved for 20 years due to Askoldov’s open criticism of Soviet antisemitism, among other things.
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.