Retrospective 2017

Under the title “Utopia and Correction,” the Austrian Film Museum and the Viennale will present films from two specific creative periods in Soviet cinema: the 1920s and 1930s, and the time during and after the cultural “Thaw” following Stalin’s death. This year’s joint retrospective in October and November is structured neither chronologically nor from a production-historical point of view. Rather, it aims to establish a dialog between cinematic works from two significant stages of awakening in Soviet cinema: films that bear testimony to the political and aesthetic hopes of their time as well as to the setbacks and reprisals with which filmmakers and intellectuals were confronted. The goal is to show – particularly in 2017, which marks the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution – both the utopias and their “corrections”: modification and adjustment of social and artistic visions to the prevailing production conditions, but also state-imposed redesign and revision of ideas, stories and films. The utopias of the first generation of Soviet filmmakers that were “corrected” during Stalin’s reign of terror meet the hopes, dreams and disappointments of the generation of directors who, after Stalin’s death in 1953, revived Soviet cinema with regard to its aesthetics and content.

Thirty films, created between 1926 and 1977, are arranged in 15 dialogical “pairs” in this retrospective, which is curated by two leading Russian film historians: Naum Kleiman (born in 1937), founder of the Sergei Eisenstein Archives and director for many years of the Moscow Film Museum, and Artiom Sopin (born in 1988), lecturer at the Russian State University for the Humanities (RSUH). Their intergenerational dialog provides a view of seemingly familiar “classics” that deviates from the common Western-European perspective and puts them in a context with less well-known films. Thus Dziga Vertov’s panoramic vision of the Soviet Union of 1926 – EIN SECHSTEL DER ERDE (“A Sixth Part of the World”) – was “reactivated” 40 years later in 235 000 000 (Uldis Brauns, 1967) by a group of Latvian filmmakers, who knew about Vertov’s ideas only from his writing. As his films did not correspond to the concept of Social Realism, they were not accessible for a long time. This is a prominent example representing many of the “corrected” artist biographies of the Soviet era that oscillate between artistic recognition and continuity, prohibition and exile, rediscovery and rehabilitation. 

Several films of this retrospective have seldom or never been screened in Austrian cinemas before and have been preserved only in the form of 35mm archive copies, mainly in Russia. The films will be shown in the original version with subtitles. The curators, Naum Kleiman and Artiom Sopin, will be in Vienna as guests of the Viennale from 13 to 15 October, introducing the films and available for interviews. 

The Austrian Film Museum would like to thank the Russian Gosfilmofond and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs for their support in realizing this retrospective.

October 13 - November 30, 2017
The Austrian Film Museum, Augustinerstraße 1, 1010 Vienna
Phone: 0043 (0)1 533 70 54 •