Russia’s pre-1917 capital, St Petersburg, has always housed a vigorous and individual tradition of film-making which has often been over-looked in comparison to Moscow. Our program, Nevaland, curated by renowned cultural and film historian, Professor Catriona Kelly, of Oxford University, will examine that tradition to celebrate the centenary of Soviet Russia’s first film The Tenants, the role of the city’s studio Lenfilm, and the century long legacy of Russia’s most imaginative city, St Petersburg, on film and vice versa.
Moscow is traditionally seen as the centre of the commercial film industry in Russia, dominating press coverage and film festivals and swallowing the lion’s share of political patronage and state funding. However, it was Petrograd where the country’s first permanent studio was founded in 1914; it was Petrograd where the first ever Soviet film, The Tenants, was released in 1918; and it was also Petrograd, and later Leningrad, that acted as Russia’s art film capital, from the new avant-garde grouped around the Factory of the Eccentric Actor (FEKS, 1921-1926) to the subtle and accomplished neo-realism of the 1960s-1980s.
This cinematic tradition enriched and drew upon a remarkable artistic culture embracing, among many other elements, the poetry of Anna Akhmatova and Joseph Brodsky, the prose of Daniil Kharms and Mikhail Zoshchenko, the music of Shostakovich, the graphic art of Anna Ostroumova-Lebedeva, and the city’s pared-down, cerebral school of modern architecture, exemplified by Evgeny Levinson and Igor Fomin’s First Residential House of Lensovet (1931-1934).
Curated by renowned cultural and film historian, Professor Catriona Kelly of Oxford University, Nevaland will celebrate the centenary of Soviet Russia’s first film The Tenants in 2018 by developing a programme of events to analyse the identity of the city of St Petersburg on film and the impact of film on the city.
This programme is being developed in collaboration with Seanse magazine and Lenfilm.