Friday, October 08, 2010

Yevrei na zemle

[Ebrei sulla terra / Jews on the Land] (VUFKU, SU 1927) D: Abram Room; SC: Viktor Shklovsky; titles: Viktor Shklovsky [+ Vladimir Mayakovsky]; DP: Albert Kyun; P asst: Lili Brik; 35 mm, 512 m, 25 min (18 fps); source: Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley. Didascalie in russo / Russian intertitles. Viewed at Teatro Verdi, Pordenone (GCM) with e-subtitles in English and Italian, no piano, 8 Oct 2010 (extra screening)

IAN CHRISTIE in the GCM Catalogue: "Made while Room and Shklovsky were collaborating on the script of Tretya Meshchanskaya, in the Russian tradition of combining this with a summer trip to the Crimea, Yevrei na zemle adopts a light-hearted tone that belies the ethnic and political tensions of the period. Ever since the Revolution, the Ukraine had been suspected of harbouring separatist ambitions, and this suspicion would harden under Stalin. So too would attitudes towards the USSR’s large Jewish population, who would eventually be granted a “homeland” in 1934 in the Jewish Autonomous Region around Birobidzhan. But in 1926, a policy was launched to concentrate Jewish resettlement on collective farms in the Crimea, which is the subject of this short documentary produced by the Ukrainian production trust VUFKU. Lili Brik and Mayakovsky, lovers for over a decade, took advantage of the setting to meet, and Mayakovsky, whose own film ambitions had been thwarted since 1918, is credited with the witty intertitles. Room and Shklovsky, both Jewish, combine gentle irony with a progressive view of the settlement programme. The desolate scene in the shtetl’s market is compared with the giant Moscow bazaar GUM, before the settlers’ efforts are shown bearing fruit in new houses and irrigated fields. A newly born baby, we learn, is named “Forget-Your-Sorrows”, while the “now productivized Jews” (as J. Hoberman notes in his book Bridge of Light) are shown forsaking tradition to rear pigs. – IAN CHRISTIE."

A print with high contrast. Images of devastation, a humoristic scene with a peddler, "Krim for tourists and for pioneers", a Jewish colony established, the tractorist Rosenblum introduced. I was not able to see this to the end this time. - There was no pianist in this screening, and the innate rhythm of the film itself was allowed to emerge. I have nothing against live music in silent films, but this screening was an oasis in the morning-till-night non stop piano playing.

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