100 years of Russian cinema, sort of

Aelita

Aelita, from http://www.academia-rossica.ru

There’s a season of Russian and Soviet cinema being held at the Curzon Mayfair in London to accompany the Royal Academy’s From Russia exhibition. It bills itself as commemorating 100 years of Russian cinema. Film had of course been exhibited in Imperial Russia since 1896, and there was an active cinema business and foreign interest from the Pathé and Gaumont firms throughout the early 1900s, plus some local non-fiction film production, but Russian fiction film production did not start until 1908.

Here’s the blurb:

100 Years of Russian Cinema: 1908-1925 Archive Cinema Season

The year 2008 will see the centenary of Russian cinema. To present its rich history and progress Academia Rossica will be launching a series of screenings and events, starting with a programme of early pre- and post-Revolutionary films.

The 1908-1925 Archive Cinema Season is organised by Academia Rossica in association with the Royal Academy of Arts and the From Russia exhibition, the latter sponsored by E.ON.

Sunday 3 February
Triple bill:

Sten’ka Razin (PG)
Director: Viktor Romashkov
Starring: Evgenii Petrov-Krayevsky
Imperial Russia 1908/ 10mins
Silent
Often referred to as the first Russian film, Sten’ka Razin tells of the legendary Russian hero’s romantic adventure with a captured princess.

The Young Lady and the Hooligan (PG)
Director: Evgenii Slavisky and Vladimir Mayakovsky
Starring: Vladimir Mayakovsky, Aleksandra Rebikova
Soviet Union 1918/ 35mins
Silent
Written and directed by Vladimir Mayakovsky, an outstanding Revolutionary poet and a playwright of the early-20th century, who also stars as the enamoured hooligan.

After Death (PG)
Director: Evgenii Bauer
Starring: Vera Karalli, Vitold Polonski
Russia 1915/ 46 mins / DVD
This adapation of a romantic young photographer, whose solitary life is haunted by the memory of his dead mother, is based on Turgenev’s novel. The film reflects upon the central themes of the director’s work: love and death.

Sunday 10 February
Double bill:

Chess Fever (PG)
Director: Vsevolod Pudovkin
Starring: Boris Barnet, Jose Raul Capablanca, Vladimir Fogel
Soviet Union 1925/ 20 mins
Silent
Chess fever sweeps the nation with disastrous romantic consequences.

Strike (PG)
Director: Sergei Eisenstein
Starring: Grigorii Alexandrov, Yudif Glizer, Mikhail Gromov
Soviet Union 1924 / 73 mins
Strike epitomises the essence of the 1917 Revolution, a key avant-garde cinematic masterpiece.

Sunday 24 February
Double bill:

The Cameraman’s Revenge (PG)
Director: Wladyslaw Starewicz
Imperial Russia 1912/ 12mins
Animation
One of the earliest animation films, Starewicz’ work is also considered to be the first film to deliberate over the role of cinema (set here in the kingdom of insects).

Aelita (PG)
Director: Yakov Protazanov
Starring: Yulia Solntceva, Igor Ilinsky, Nikolai Tsereteli
Soviet Union 1924/ 77 mins
Silent
The first Soviet Sci-fi film tells the story of engineer Los, who travels to Mars leading an uprising against the dictator King, aided by Aelita, the disempowered romantic Queen.

More details from the Curzon Cinemas site or the Academia-Rossica site.

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