Sunday, October 06, 2013

Soviet Silent Animation, Part I (2013 Pordenone retrospective, curated by Peter Bagrov, Sergei Kapterev)

VINTIK-SHPINTIK, D: Vladislav Tvardovskii, photo: Gosfilmofond

Teatro Verdi (Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone), with e-titles in English and Italian, grand piano: Donald Sosin, 6 Oct 2013

TAINSTVENNOE KOLTSO, ILI ROKOVAYA TAINA (48 SERII) [Un anello misterioso ovvero Il mistero fatale (48 episodi) / A Mysterious Ring, or The Fatal Mystery (48 Episodes)] (Goskino [Kultkino], SU 1924) D, SC, AD: Aleksandr Bushkin; 35 mm, 120 m, 5' (21 fps); AN (flat-figure marionettes [articulated cut-outs]); print source: Gosfilmofond, Moscow. Russian intertitles.

Sergei Kapterev: "Aleksandr Bushkin (1896-1929) is commonly considered the founder of the Soviet school of animation, which at its earliest, propaganda-oriented stage was influenced by his technically and artistically limited but definitely pioneering work."

"A graduate of the Kyiv School of the Arts who began his career as a decorative artist, Bushkin produced his first significant animated material for the 1924 “scientific” film Abortion (Abort). He would continue to work in popular science cinema, but he would primarily be known as the director and designer of “agit-films” – short political and social satires. However, A Mysterious Ring is a striking exception to this tendency in Bushkin’s work."

"In the famous satire Soviet Toys (Sovetskie igrushki), made by Ivan Beliakov and Aleksandr G. Ivanov with Bushkin’s participation in 1924, under the directorial supervision of Dziga Vertov, and shown at the 2004 Giornate as part of the Vertov retrospective – or another satirical piece, being screened at Pordenone this year, Interplanetary Revolution (Mezhplanetnaya revoliutsiya), made in 1924 by Bushkin’s “competitors” Komissarenko, Merkulov, and Khodatayev – the audience typically sees a gallery of socio-political monstrosities juxtaposed with new, Soviet social types. By contrast, A Mysterious Ring opens with a sequence of fresh American faces, which contradicts the satirical purpose stated in Soviet-era descriptions of the film. After the start of the New Economic Policy, which promoted some forms of free trade, in 1923 the monopolistic Goskino (the Central State Photographic and Cinematic Enterprise), unable to supply Soviet audiences with adequate numbers of domestically-produced films, promoted the broad distribution of foreign films. By 1924, Soviet filmgoers had become acquainted with quite a few Hollywood products, among them Westerns – such as William S. Hart’s The Toll Gate (1920) and O’Malley of the Mounted (1921) – and Priscilla Dean, Pearl White, and Ruth Roland serials."

"A Mysterious Ring certainly parodied clichés of American action cinema, but now it looks more like an instance of curious admiration for American cinema, that “Americanitis” which pervaded a major segment of early Soviet film culture, rather than a piece of class-conscious criticism. Or it may even be seen as an advertisement for Goskino’s – and Soviet Russia’s – new economic openness."

"It is quite tempting – and historically logical – to regard Bushkin’s articulated cut-out animation as technically primitive. On the other hand, his works reveal a strong desire and consistent effort to present the subjects of his films in an imaginative and intelligible manner. Bushkin’s aesthetic solutions could be perceptive and witty: A Mysterious Ring’s horizontal-scroll-like format successfully conveys the metaphysical interminability of a “48-episode” serial; and the sudden change of the film’s linear structure to a front view of a fast-moving train near the film’s end, or the more obvious but nevertheless amusing, and literally cliffhanging, finale, convey American cinema’s enviable dynamic quality."

"Bushkin’s colleagues remembered him as a serious, genuinely inspired artist, dedicated to animation and cinema. At the time, when animation was often treated in Soviet culture as a novelty whose primary use was as an explanatory-expressive addition to the main body of a film, he viewed animation as a self-contained branch of cinema, capable of something greater than an auxiliary role." – Sergei Kapterev

AA: Limited animation. A primitive chase story following a moving paper roll. The paper is slightly crumpled. The car jumps over obstacles. The chase goes on on land, water, and air, and on varying vehicles.

DURMAN DEMIANA [La droga di Demian / Demian’s Drug] (Sovkino, SU 1925) D, SC, AD: Aleksandr Bushkin; orig. l: 178 m.; 35 mm, 176 m, 7'15" (21 fps); AN (flat-figure marionettes [articulated cut-outs]); print source: Gosfilmofond, Moscow. Russian intertitles.

Sergei Kapterev: "In 1922, Aleksandr Bushkin assumed the responsibility of supervising the production of animation material for Goskino’s Department of Documentary, Cultural (Educational) and Advertising Films (Kultkino). Among other things, he and his colleagues provided this material for Dziga Vertov’s films. Vertov’s concept of “cine-truth” did not preclude the use of trick cinematography or animation because, it may be claimed, this concept was defined by the belief in the power of the camera even more than by the necessity to record unbeautified actuality proclaimed in Vertov’s theories."

"In 1923, Goskino began to produce animated political cartoons, which were seen as an extension of the posters and caricatures so important for the Soviet propaganda effort. In his booklet Tricks and Animation (Triuki i multiplikatsiia, 1926), Bushkin recalled that these cartoons had been initially shot without an animation desk, from a tripod, with drawings spread on the floor, animation designers crawling around them, and the cameraman standing “on one leg somewhere near the ceiling”. These early animated films were made in great haste and practically without pause, so that they could preserve their subjects’ topicality on theatrical release."

"After his work alongside Aleksandr G. Ivanov and Ivan Beliakov on Soviet Toys (Sovetskie igrushki, 1924), based on a series of political grotesques published in the most important Bolshevik newspaper, Pravda, and usually considered the first Soviet animated cartoon, Bushkin directed a number of animated propaganda shorts that same year, with such telling titles as A Blow to the Second International’s Face (V mordu II Internatsionalu) and German Deeds and Misdeeds (Germanskie dela i delishki)."

"Demian’s Drug also represents this propagandist vision, so much more typical for Bushkin than the light-hearted irony of A Mysterious Ring. The film applies propaganda to domestic affairs, exposing a progress-hindering legacy of the recently toppled tsarist regime and presenting a healthy alternative to the degrading existence of a drunken sociopath. It also provides a more sophisticated instance of Aleksandr Bushkin’s animation than A Mysterious Ring: although using the same technique of “flat-figure marionettes” (articulated cut-outs), the relative crudeness of the earlier film here gives way to greater technical proficiency, and its explicit linearity to a more diverse style which sometimes approaches the modernist eclecticism of Interplanetary Revolution (Mezhplanetnaya revoliutsiya, 1924). Motivated by the theme of a drunkard’s hallucinations, the images of a Méliès moon and a flying human figure strangely reminiscent of Marc Chagall’s early paintings, such as “Above the Town” (1918), add to Demian’s Drug an allegorical, surreal quality."

"Despite occasional artistic and cultural allusions, Bushkin’s vision was primarily that of a political commentator, in compliance with the early Soviet attitude to film animation as a vivified political poster, a novel tool of visual propaganda. If one believes the legend of Bushkin’s early death, then it became a symbolic reflection of his understanding of the Soviet artist’s inevitable political responsibilities. In 1929, after recording on film a speech by a top Soviet functionary, he realized that during the shoot he forgot to remove the lens cap – and died from a broken heart." – Sergei Kapterev

AA: A public information animation, an infomercial, a work of temperance propaganda. Simple animation following a drunkard's delirious hallucinations. The world is getting mad. The lamp post turns into a snake. The world is swinging like a ship in a storm. Ensues a night flight to the moon. The Mélièsian moon spits the protagonist out of its mouth. The drunkard tries to find his way home. Lenin's teachings reform him. He does not go to the bar again but is set to the Culture Club. A good print.

DAL ZOVIOT TRAILER [Il richiamo del remoto / The Call of the Faraway] (Proletkult, Leningrad, USSR, 1926) (trailer) D: Igor Sorokhtin; AN (flat-figure marionettes [articulated cut-outs], hand-drawn); 35 mm, 25 m, 1'21" (16 fps); print source: Gosfilmofond, Moscow. Russian intertitles.

Peter Bagrov: "This mysterious little film was discovered only recently in an old vault at the Lenfilm studios in St. Petersburg, and wasn’t preserved until this year. It has never been mentioned in any catalogues or memoirs, so at first we knew neither the year, nor the director, nor the production company. Yet the puzzle was worth solving. Unpretentious as it seems, the film is nevertheless unique in many ways. First of all, it turned out to be the earliest existing example of Leningrad animation. In the mid-1920s Igor Sorokhtin (1898-1959) was a student at the State Technical School for Screen Arts. A bizarre institution designed to train film actors and cameramen based on pre-Revolutionary standards, it turned out to be a hideaway for “socially dangerous elements” such as the children of noblemen or officers of the former Imperial Army. Only five or six graduates out of several hundred became established actors, but an avant-garde resistance to the school’s traditional teaching methods led to an outburst of interesting film directors, the most famous of them being Fridrikh Ermler and Sergei Vasiliev. Sorokhtin was also one of those unsuccessful actors with a desire to experiment. Throughout the 35 years of his career he changed his cinematic interests constantly; his work consisted of a succession of genres – animation comedies, agit-prop features, semi-documentary expedition films with established stars of the stage, colour ballet shorts, commercials, and musical clips – and he ended as a leading director of educational and instructional films at a studio in the major provincial city of Sverdlovsk."

"Sorokhtin’s first experiments in animation date back to 1924, making him and his classmate and colleague Aleksandr Presniakov (1902-1953) as much pioneers as Aleksandr Bushkin and other Muscovites. But not being aware of each other’s existence, animators in Moscow and Leningrad kept reinventing the wheel: Sorokhtin described their first animation stand as a wooden ladder with a camera at the top and an ordinary table underneath. Still students of the Technical College, they were denied support both from their alma mater and from the Sevzapkino film company. The young artisans were finally sheltered by the Leningrad branch of Proletkult (Proletarian Culture), an influential artistic institution in Soviet Russia in the 1920s. Aiming to transform the traditional arts into new forms that would meet the requirements of the working class, Proletkult had a significant impact on (and caused significant harm to) literature and theatre. The only surviving film with its logo is Sergei Eisenstein’s Stachka (Strike, 1924), simultaneously the filmmaker’s début and his last nod to Proletkult aesthetics, which ended in his conflict with the organization. But Proletkult’s role in supporting the beginnings of Leningrad animation also deserves credit, and, since the first films of Sorokhtin and Presniakov are considered lost, the rediscovered Dal zoviot trailer is now the only witness of that forgotten page of Soviet cinema history."

"Proletkult owned the largest cinema in Leningrad, “Koloss”, and in fact its support of the young animators was reduced to providing them with a room behind the screen there. In return Sorokhtin, Presniakov, and their two or three assistants were obliged to make trailers. Dal zoviot was a “kulturfilm” compiled and re-edited by Proletkult from two foreign documentaries dedicated to the expeditions of Robert Falcon Scott and Vilhjálmur Stefánsson (most likely Herbert G. Ponting’s The Great White Silence, 1924, shown at the 2011 Giornate, and Rescue of the Stefansson Arctic Expedition, 1912). Sorokhtin’s silly story of an Eskimo fighting a polar bear and eventually rolling up with his enemy into a giant snowball doesn’t quite meet the spirit of the film advertised. But audiences were used to such dissonances."

"Trailers were animators’ bread and butter, so each tried to outdo the other. A favourite example cited in contemporary accounts was the trailer for a 1928 melodrama, V gorod vhodit nelzia (No Entry to the City): while the film dealt with the conflict between pro-Soviet and anti-Soviet intelligentsia, the animation trailer depicted a lonely traveler on an elephant who desperately tries to enter an Oriental city. These elegant little sketches were indeed works of art in themselves. Alas, all of them are lost except for a puppet film, Sluchai na Stadione (Incident at the Stadium, 1928). Now we have another species of the genre – and the only hand-drawn one." – Peter Bagrov

AA:  An animated trailer where the Eskimo confronts a polar bear and turns it into a snowball. Items: penguin hatched from an egg, skis, the sun.

MOIDODYR (O umouněném Ivánkovi) [Mojdodyr / Wash-’Em- Clean] (Mezhrabpomfilm, SU 1927) D, puppeteer: Maria Benderskaya; SC: based on the poem “Moidodyr” by Korney Chukovsky; DP, AD: Samuil Benderskii; orig. l: 300 m.; 35 mm, 216 m, 9'13" (21 fps); AN (stop-motion, puppets); print source: Národní filmový archiv, Praha. Czech intertitles.

Sergei Kapterev: "One of the first Soviet stop-motion animated films, Wash-’Em-Clean is based on another Chukovsky poem hugely popular in the USSR (since its publication in 1923, generations of Soviet children have learned by heart the opening lines of this bizarre instructional piece: “From my bed / The blanket fled, / And the sheet refused to stay, / And the pillow, / Like a billow, / Gathered up and flew away…”); other film versions of Wash-’Em-Clean, using drawn animation, appeared in 1939 and 1954, both directed by Ivan Ivanov-Vano. Another children- oriented product of the animation department of Mezhrabpomfilm (which changed its name from Mezhrabpom-Rus in organizational and political changes), the film demonstrated the seriousness of the studio’s intention to target younger audiences."

"1927 may be considered the year of the birth of Soviet stop-motion animation: five out of the about 20 animated films made in that year in the USSR used the stop-motion technique. Pre-Soviet Russia had produced, under the direction of Władysław Starewicz (Ladislas Starewitch), some of the world’s most remarkable stop-motion films, but his 1919 emigration abruptly ended this fascinating development. The first attempts to revive the efforts undertaken by Starewicz – efforts which allowed Jay Leyda to call stop-motion animation “a native Russian form” – were hardly on a par with his technical and stylistic achievements. Still, they deserve close attention in view of the successes gained by Soviet stop-motion animators during the sound period."

"Wash-’Em-Clean is a characteristic example of the technically inadequate but nobly experimental early stage of Soviet stop-motion animation. It was executed by Maria Benderskaya, who directed the film and operated its stop-motion puppets, and who would continue working in the sphere of stop-motion and drawn animation until the late 1930s, notably alongside Aleksandr Ptushko, the most important practitioner of stop-motion animation in the history of Soviet cinema, who also joined the field in 1927; and by her husband Samuil Benderskii, a veteran cameraman who had been one of the three best- paid cinematographers of pre-revolutionary Russia, contributing, in particular, to The Strong Man (Silnyi chelovek), a 1917 film project of the great stage director Vsevolod Meyerhold.
In his 1931 book Multiplikatsionnye Filmy (Animated Films) Ptushko theorized about the affinity between the three-dimensional stop-motion puppets and the articulated cut-outs which were so typical of Soviet animation’s earliest stage. This inference can probably be applied to Wash-’Em-Clean, with its awkward movements and very narrow range of facial expressions. In their next, more politically tendentious work, The Adventures of the Little Chinese (Prikliucheniya Kitaichat, 1928), the Benderskiis attempted to correct these defects, but with limited success.
"

"At the end of the silent and the beginning of the sound eras, Soviet studios would continue producing stop-motion animated films. This culminated in Aleksandr Ptushko’s sound feature A New Gulliver (Novyi Gulliver, 1935), an ideological update of Jonathan Swift’s satire. At last, there appeared a film which was worthy of the best of Starewicz’s work, receiving praise not only from Leyda but also from Charles Chaplin. Wash-’Em-Clean played a modest but historically important role in the process leading to this formidable achievement." Sergei Kapterev

AA: A stop motion puppet animation inspired by a children's poem about Dirty Ivan who refuses to wash himself in the evening. Objects such as the bed linen and the wash basin come alive. Ivan tries to evade it, but it keeps chasing him. Even a crocodile family is compared with Dirty Ivan. Donald Sosin at the piano was particularly inspired by this movie.

SENKA-AFRIKANETS (Krokodil Krokodilovich) [Senka l’africano / Senka the African; Cocodrillo Cocodrilovich / Crocodile Crocodilevich] (Mezhrabpom-Rus, SU 1927) D, AD: Daniil Cherkes, Yuri Merkulov, Ivan Ivanov-Vano; SC: Yakov Urinov, Daniil Cherkes, based on the poem “Krokodil” by Korney Chukovsky; DP: Leonid Kosmatov; P, AD supv: Sergei Kozlovskii; 35 mm, 614 m, 25'20" (21 fps); AN (flat-figure marionettes [articulated cut-outs], cut-outs, page-turn animation, live action); print source: Gosfilmofond, Moscow. Russian intertitles.

Sergei Kapterev: "In 1926, three artists working for the Mezhrabpom-Rus studios – Yuri Merkulov (co-director of the groundbreaking Interplanetary Revolution [Mezhplanetnaya revoliutsiya, 1924] and one of the first filmmakers to join the studio’s animation department), Daniil Cherkes, and Ivan Ivanov-Vano – initiated the making of the first Soviet animated film for children."

"According to Merkulov, it was he who invited Ivanov-Vano – who had worked with him as one of the designers of China Aflame (Kitai v ogne, 1925), a film that built upon the experiment of Interplanetary Revolution, and would continue working as animation director until the 1980s – and Cherkes, a graduate of Moscow University’s Department of Physics and Mathematics with a second diploma in painting and some experience as a graphic artist and decorator. All three started their careers at Mezhrabpom-Rus with commercials and animation inserts in popular science and fiction films."

"Sergei Kozlovsky, the most important designer at Mezhrabpom-Rus, was instrumental – together with another studio veteran, Yuri Zheliabuzhskii, who himself would soon direct a pair of animated films – in convincing the studio’s leadership to produce an animated cartoon aimed at child audiences. The film was to be longer than usual (a two-reeler) and to contain innovative special effects (it would be criticized for its excessive reliance on “tricks”). To cut down the production time, the studio decided that the film, which was titled Senka the African, would make extensive use of live-action footage. Senka the African was loosely based on “Krokodil” (“The Crocodile”), a fairy tale in verse written in 1916 by Korney Chukovsky (1882-1969), a poet, translator, and literary scholar, and one of the best-loved Russian writers for children. In spite of being denounced by Lenin’s widow Nadezhda Krupskaya as “bourgeois rubbish”, the winsomely absurdist “Krokodil” enjoyed great popularity among Soviet children and their parents."

"Similar to the girl student in One of Many, the little hero of Senka the African falls asleep and finds himself in a fairy-tale world. In this case, dreams of a recent visit to the Moscow Zoo and a book about African wildlife transport him among the exotic landscapes and inhabitants of Africa. This magical transition gave the filmmakers a major opportunity for experimentation. Using photographs and, for live-action sequences, an ingenious system of film projection, mirrors, and matted glass, the makers of Senka undertook the task of “seamlessly” combining graphic animation and live action within one frame. They achieved a convincing synthesis of the two different media – not least because of the quality of the camerawork by Leonid Kosmatov, a budding cinematographer who would later become an expert in color cinematography and whose work would include such ideological epics as Mikheil Chiaureli’s The Vow (Kliatva, 1946) and The Fall of Berlin (Padeniye Berlina, 1949)."

"Merkulov was responsible for designing the main character of the boy Senka, inspired by the behavior of Cherkes’ little daughter, a frequent visitor to the animation studio. The painterly sensibility of Cherkes produced colorful African-themed backgrounds. Ivanov-Vano also worked on the film’s backgrounds, as well as on such decorative designs as the “Africanist” composition centered on Africa’s map."

"The task of writing the screenplay went to Cherkes and Yakov Protazanov’s associate Yakov Urinov, both of whom had no experience in screenwriting. Although this fact and the studio’s decision to “fortify” animation by a long stretch of rather superfluous location photography somewhat obscured and slowed down the narrative, Senka the African turned out to be a big success with young audiences, and should be regarded as a milestone in the history of Soviet animation, as one of the earliest contributions to the uniquely Soviet phenomenon of children’s cinema." – Sergei Kapterev

AA: The crocodile motif of the previous movie continues here. There is fine live action footage of a zoo (polar bears, lions, tigers, monkeys, elephants, hippopotami, parrots, storks, snakes, flamingoes, seals, camels, and crocodiles). The African book comes alive as an animation: the snake, the giraffe, the hippopotamus are revived, and the boy starts to fall asleep. The live-action ascent with a balloon to get a bird's eye view is well shot. We land into Africa, to the Nile, the Sphinx, the home of the crocodiles.

VINTIK-SHPINTIK (The Little Screw. A Soviet Fantasy) [La piccola vite] (Sovkino, Leningrad, SU 1927) D: Vladislav Tvardovskii; SC: Nikolai Agnivtsev; AN: Viacheslav Kuklin, Sergei Zhukov, Igor Sorokhtin, Aleksandr Presniakov; DP: Ye. Bocharov; orig. l: 314 m.; 35 mm, 297 m, 12' (21 fps); AN (flat-figure marionettes [articulated cut-outs], documentary footage); print source: BFI National Archive, London. English and Russian intertitles.

Peter Bagrov: "Vintik-shpintik is not only an ingenious film, but a perfect example of the Leningrad school of animation. It also represents the only fully- fledged example in existence, since 30 others are considered lost. Tsekhanovskii’s Pochta [Post] stands alone as a masterpiece, and as such doesn’t fit any category."

"Like most of the Leningrad animators, Vladislav Tvardovskii (1888-1942) started his film career from the launching pad of children’s literature. He was of Polish origin and was born into the nobility. Socially he must have been considered an outcast (not among his colleagues though, since the animation unit in Leningrad was crawling with “socially alien elements”). He studied engineering and architecture in St. Petersburg and academic painting in Paris at the prestigious Académie Julian under Jean-Paul Laurens. His education was interrupted by military service in the First World War and internment in a Hungarian war camp. Tvardovskii changed several jobs before landing at a private publishing house, Raduga [Rainbow], which later became integrated into “Detgiz” (Children’s State Publishers). During the period from 1924 to 1929 he illustrated two dozen books, experimenting in all possible styles, from Art Nouveau to Constructivism. Among his most successful illustrations were those for Vintik-Shpuntik, a poem by Nikolai Agnivtsev (1888-1932)."

"A popular poet and chansonnier of the 1910s, the author of numerous bitter, ironic, and stylized ballads, Agnivtsev aspired to become the Russian equivalent of Pierre-Jean de Béranger, France’s most famous popular songwriter of the 19th century. Like most of the bohemian intelligentsia he emigrated shortly after the Revolution, but was soon suffering from nostalgia in Paris and decided to return home. He was lucky enough to die several years before 1937, when most of the repatriated émigrés were arrested and executed as “agents of foreign intelligence”. But having avoided Stalin’s purges, he still had little chance of making a career in Soviet literature. Instead he earned his living writing unpretentious propaganda books for children. When publishing a collection of his poems, Agnivtsev came up with the self- reflexive title “From Face Powder to Truck” (Ot Pudry do Gruzovika). The children’s story Vintik-Shpuntik points out the significance of every detail in a factory: a little screw is insulted by the lathes, who don’t take him seriously; he leaves – and the whole factory stops. It was a metaphor of a sort, since Stalin used precisely this word (vintik) to describe a Soviet worker’s place in the great state machine. We don’t know whose idea it was to turn it into a film, but in 1927 both Tvardovskii and Agnivtsev started to collaborate actively with the Sovkino studios in Leningrad. With the aid of Presniakov and Sorokhtin they simply “galvanized” the book, transferring all the characters with great thoroughness – and changing, for unknown reasons, one letter in its title (Shpuntik to Shpintik). The paper cut-outs were indeed perfectly suited to this story. Every machine resembles a certain animal (a giraffe, a horse, and so forth), and thus inherits its “graphics” of movement – adjusted to the clumsiness of both the lathes and the “flat-figure marionettes” (two-dimensional jointed cut-out figures). The rhythm of each character was determined entirely by the artist, for Agnivtsev cared little about individualization (and in general the quality of the poetry here is dubious). The habitat was specified as well: of the three settings in the film, two reproduce Tvardovskii’s original book illustrations pretty accurately."

"A much greater success in Europe than its native Russia, Vintik-Shpintik was sonorized in 1930 (as Die kleine Schraube), with a score by Edmund Meisel, the most established composer of German silent cinema, and was usually screened with Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin (Bronenosets Potemkin), whose score is considered Meisel’s masterwork. Today Meisel’s sound version of Vintik-Shpintik is considered lost."

"As for Tvardovskii, he continued making animation films throughout the 1920s and early 1930s, and was respected by his younger colleagues as the initiator of the book-to-film tradition. The end of his biography is typical: technical and instructional films, commercials, occasional work for the “real” cinema – and death from starvation during the Siege of Leningrad." – Peter Bagrov

AA: A well made animation, a machine fantasy about the factory which cannot function without the tiny screw although the big machine parts repeat "I'm big, I'm important". The pianist Donald Sosin was also particularly inspired by this film.

V POISKAH UTRACHENNOI “POCHTY” (Searching for “Pochta”) (Master-film, RU 2013) (trailer) D: Dmitry Zolotov; concept, SC: Nikolai Izvolov; consultant, researcher, SC contrib: Sergei Kapterev; DP: Valerii Riabin; HD Cam, 8'30" (25 fps), col., sd.; source: Master-film, Moscow. Supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. English dialogue, with English subtitles.

David Robinson: "This is a trailer and harbinger of Sergei Kapterev’s film record of the search for a lost masterpiece. He writes:"

"“This is a film about a film and its author, but also about the thrills of the chase for lost films and about people who help other people to enjoy and understand cinema.""

"“Our quest is the search for the lost 1930 sound version of Mikhail Tsekhanovskii’s animated cartoon Pochta, a masterpiece of animation whose influence is said to have extended so far as to inspire Sir Stephen Tallents with the creation of Britain’s GPO Film Unit.""

"“Our film has another, even more romantic goal: to show to the ‘outer’ world the fascinating community of individuals who love and know film as no one else: film archivists and film collectors, film historians and film critics, students of film and film connoisseurs.""

"“Our search began in Moscow, then inevitably progressed to Pordenone. Pordenone led us on to Belgrade, Vienna, Prague. Now we are headed for still more places where evidence, fragments, or even the whole film – the grail, the sound version of Pochta – may survive. St Petersburg? … Paris? New York?”" – David Robinson

AA: A charming filmed warrant to discover the lost sound version of Pochta. Also a meta-film of Pordenone's film archival community.

MOIDODYR [WASH-’EM-CLEAN] D: Maria Benderskaya. Photograph: Gosfilmofond
SENKA-AFRIKANETS (Krokodil Krokodilovich). Daniil Cherkes, Yuri Merkulov, Ivan Ivanov-Vano. Photo: Gosfilmofond
VINTIK-SHPINTIK, D: Vladislav Tvardovskii, photo: Gosfilmofond

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