RU 13520: Post Soviet Russian Cinema
Freed from the constraints of Soviet-era censorship, in the transitional years (1990-2005) Russian filmmakers exploited the unique qualities of the film medium in order to create compelling portraits of a society in transition. The films we will watch cover a broad spectrum: reassessing Russia’s rich pre-Revolutionary cultural heritage as well as traumatic periods in Soviet history (World War II, the Stalinist era); grappling with formerly taboo social issues (gender roles, anti-Semitism, alcoholism); taking an unflinching look at new social problems resulting from the breakdown of the Soviet system (the rise of neo-fascism, the war in Chechnya, organized crime); and meditating on Russia’s current political and cultural dilemmas (the place of non-Russian ethnicities within Russia, Russians’ love-hate relationship with the West). From this complex cinematic patchwork emerges a picture of a new, raw Russia, as yet confused and turbulent, but full of vitality and promise for the future. Short readings supplement the film component of the course. Film screenings optional; films will also be available on reserve. No prior knowledge of Russian is required. All texts will be available in English.