Georgian-born Armenian, Sergei Parajanov (1924-1990) was a controversial director in the Soviet era. At first he followed the state mandated style of Socialist Realism, but in 1964 he broke out into his own style with Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (YT), a dream-like film that combines expressionistic camera techniques, ethnography, and the logic of folktales. The film won almost every, award in sight on the 1964 film festival circuit, but it was also of the restrictive Soviet approach to the arts. The film was banned by authorities, but Parajanov did not return to realism, and instead paid tribute to the Armenian troubadour Sayat-Nova ("King of Songs" in Persian). The Color of Pomegranates (1968) is a film that sought to portray Sayat-Nova through images inspired by his life and poetry. [more inside]
Человек с киноаппаратом ("Man with a Movie Camera") is a classic experimental documentary film that was released in 1929. Directed by pioneer Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov, this classic, silent documentary film has no story and no actors, and is actually three documentaries in one. Ostensibly it documents 24 hours of life in a single city in the Soviet Union. But it is also a documentary of the filming of that documentary and a depiction of an audience watching that documentary and their responses. "We see the cameraman and the editing of the film, but what we don't see is any of the film itself." [more inside]
Animatsiya in English is weblog (warning: livejournal) with a narrow focus: tracking the production of Russian animated feature films. Russian animation has a long history with output both abstract and obstructed; from the early influence of the Russian avant-garde and the work of small groups of enthusiasts, through Stalin-era Socialist realism and a style known as Éclair that was marked by the use of extensive rotoscoping, to the 1960's and beyond when surreal and politically charged (and unfortunately, in this case, anti-Semitic) as well as unconventionally structured, emotionally fueled films found release. Fortunately, when Pilot Studio—the Soviet Union's first private animation studio—decided to relegate parts of that history to the dumpsters out back, the people were ready to sift through the mess. [more inside]
Born in 1938 and raised on a chicken farm on the outskirts of Denver, Colorado... Dean Reed became the Red Elvis, a huge music and film star in the Eastern Bloc, truly an unlikely icon.. "For a lot of people like Michail Gorbashev he is the first rockstar they see in their life." There are great pictures at this site.