|Prodanyi apetyt. Photo: Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre.|
|Palats mystetstv, SSSR. Photo: Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre.|
|Dniprelstan. Photo: Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre.|
An edited compilation programme on 2K DCP from the Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre with e-subtitles in English and Italian, grand piano: Donald Sosin, at Teatro Verdi (Le Giornate del Cinema Muto), Pordenone, 7 Oct 2014
Ivan Kozlenko (GCM catalogue and website): "Influenced by Constructivism, 1920s Ukrainian avant-garde animation was a field both of artistic and technological experiments, which gave birth to such wonderful discoveries as the automatic pencil, a distant forerunner of computer animation, invented by the innovative Vyacheslav Levandovskyi (1897-1962)."
"Ukrainian animation dates back to 1926, when Levandovskyi began work on the animated films Kazka pro solomyanoho bychka (The Tale of the Straw Bull, 1927) and Ukrayinizatsiya (Ukrainization, 1927), dedicated to the Bolshevik Party’s newly proclaimed policy of supporting national cultures. Both films were started at the Odessa Film Factory of VUFKU (the All-Ukrainian Photo-Cinema Directorate), but only the first one was completed there."
"The following year VUFKU established a central cartoon studio (workshop), Tsentralna Animatsiyna maysternia VUFKU, in Kyiv, headed by Levandovskyi and Volodymyr Dev’yatnin (1891-1964), his fellow pioneer of Soviet animation. The studio’s first two cartoons, Ukrainizatsiya (Ukrainization) and Kazka pro Bilku-chepurushku I Myshku-zlodyuzhku (The Tale of the Tidy Squirrel and the Thievish Mouse), both finished in 1928 after two years’ work, were banned – the first because of “nationalistic deviation”, the second because of “kurkul (kulak) ideology tendencies”."
"In 1929 the first Soviet stop-motion film, Varennya z polunyts (Strawberry Jam) was created at VUFKU’s Kharkiv studio by B. Zeliger, D. Mukha, and H. Zlochevskyi. All of these films are now lost, but the multyplakaty (“animated posters”) on such urgent topics as disarmament, socialist construction, bureaucracy, etc., which more likely were created at the VUFKU Kyiv animation workshop in 1927-1930, have miraculously survived, and give us some idea of the potential of Ukrainian animation at that time."
"During the silent period of 1927-1931, a total of 16 animated films were made at the VUFKU studios in Kyiv, Odessa, and Kharkiv. “Animated posters” (multyplakaty/multyplikaty) were a popular comic genre (also in literature and journalism) that aimed to mock the Western or “bourgeois” way of life. Mostly anonymous, they have survived in the Tsentralnyi Derzhavnyi Kinophotophonoarkhiv imeni H. Pshenychnoho (Central State Film-Photo-Audio Archive of Ukraine, named after Hordii Pshenychyi), as episodes in the newsreels Kinotyzhden VUFKU (VUFKU Film Week, 1927-1929), Kinotyzhden (Film Week, 1929), and Kinozhurnal (Film Journal, 1929-1930), which from 1927 were shown before feature films in movie theatres."
"In 1929-30 two now-forgotten animators, Yakov(?) Roytman and M. Veitsman – definitely subjects for further research – made their student cartoons Berezhit’ Papir (Save Paper), Prohulnyk (The Absentee), and Kazka pro zahalne rozzbroyennia (The Tale of General Disarmament), in which animated images are curiously intertwined with shots from newsreels."
"Our programme also includes animated advertisements and film trailers, such as Palats Mystetstv SSSR (The USSR Palace of Art), part of the 10th issue of Kinozhurnal VUFKU (1930), and – already previewed in last year’s Giornate – the animated trailer for Dziga Vertov’s Odynadtsyatyi (The Eleventh), created by Evhen Makarov in collaboration with the director himself, and, most likely, Oleksandr Rodchenko."
"All the films are being projected as DCPs, made by the Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Film Centre from the original 35 mm archival prints held in the Tsentralnyi Derzhavnyi Kinophotophonoarkhiv imeni H. Pshenychnoho, plus one from EYE Filmmuseum (the trailer for Vertov’s The Eleventh)." – Ivan Kozlenko
DNIPRELSTAN [La centrale idrolettrica del Dnipro/Dnieper Electric Station] (Tsentralna Animatsiyna maysternia VUFKU, Kyiv – UkrSSR 1927) D, SC, AN: Evhen Makarov; DCP, 5'17" (25 fps); titles: UKR; print source: Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Film Centre, Kyiv.
"This educational animated film gives a popular account of the construction of the Dniprobud Dam, detailing the reasons for its creation and its undoubted benefits. This great project to harness the mighty Dnieper River to generate hydroelectric power became one of the key reference points during Soviet industrialization and the First Five-Year Plan. It also became synonymous with Socialism. Or even Communism, keeping in mind Lenin’s recipe: “Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country.”" – Stanislav Menzelevskyi
AA: Animation by drawing and painting, with animated texts and maps, propaganda for the first five-year plan and the electrification of the USSR. Dnieper Hydroelectric Station / the former Dniprobud Dam is still the largest hydroelectric power station on the Dnieper. A celebration of the monumental project of industrialization.
PRODANYI APETYT [L’appetito venduto/The Sold Appetite] (VUFKU – UkrSSR 1927) (trailer) D, SC, AN: Evhen Makarov?; DCP, 1'58" (25 fps); titles: UKR; print source: Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Film Centre, Kyiv.
"The Sold Appetite was an atypical film for Ukrainian commissioned cinema. Based on the political pamphlet L’Appétit vendu (1893) by the French Marxist Paul Lafargue, Nikolai Okhlopkov’s film was an anti-capitalist fable about an unemployed bus driver (played by Amvrosii Buchma, a prominent Ukrainian actor) who sells his appetite to a rich man just to allow him to consume more food. There was no place for consumerist logic in the USSR: they just had nothing to consume. Okhlopkov’s feature film is considered lost, but this animated trailer for it survives."
AA: Animation by letters, cut-outs, and drawing, a satire on consumerism. It progresses from abstraction to lettrism. There are metamorphoses, and writing as animation. Stylish.
ODYNADTSYATYI, TRAILER [L’undicesimo / The Eleventh] (Tsentralna Animatsiyna maysternia VUFKU, Kyiv – UkrSSR 1928). D, SC, AN: Evhen Makarov; DCP, 2'18" (25 fps), col. (tinted); titles: UKR; print source: Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Film Centre, Kyiv.
"The Eleventh (Odynadtsyatyi) was the first film Dziga Vertov made in Ukraine, at VUFKU, the All-Ukrainian Photo-Cinema-Directorate. Assigned to make a film intended to glorify the achievements of the First Five-Year Plan and the tenth anniversary of Socialist rule, Vertov succeeded in creating one of the supreme masterpieces in the history of documentary cinema. The animated trailer was created by Evhen Makarov in collaboration with the director himself, and, most likely, photographer and designer Oleksandr Rodchenko. The trailer was discovered in the mid-1990s by the Dutch film researcher, poster collector, and authority Martijn Le Coultre, the president of the International Poster Gallery in The Hague, among some of Vertov’s personal belongings sold by his heirs to an Amsterdam antiquarian. The original 35 mm nitrate film print (measuring 47 metres) is currently stored at the EYE Film Institute Netherlands." – Stanislav Menzelevskyi
AA: Animation in colour, limited, often abstract, with matchstick men, letters, exclamation marks, opening spirals and caleidoscope figures, a trailer for Dziga Vertov's classic propaganda film for the first five-year plan. Impressive in its stark simplicity and sense of rhythm. If this isn't in collaboration with Rodchenko, it is at least worthy of him.
POZYKA NA INDUSTRIALIZATSIYU [Prestiti per l’industrializzazione/ Industrialization Loan] (Tsentralna Animatsiyna maysternia VUFKU, Kyiv – UkrSSR, 1928) D: ?; DCP, 1' (25 fps); titles: RUS; print source: Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Film Centre, Kyiv.
"This short animated advertisement tries to persuade Soviet citizens to loan their salaries to the State. From 1927, the Soviet regime actively lobbied for government loans during the industrialization period. They were mostly long-term loans, some even lasting up to a term of 10 years." – Stanislav Menzelevskyi
AA: Animation by cut-outs, water colour, and objects animated in stop motion, propaganda for loans. The basic image is the rolling coin.
KAZKA PRO ZAHALNE ROZZBROYENNIA [Storia del disarmo generale/A Tale of General Disarmament] (Tsentralna Animatsiyna maysternia VUFKU, Kyiv – UkrSSR 1929) D, SC, AN: M. Veitsman; DCP, 4'51" (25 fps); titles: UKR; print source: Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Film Centre, Kyiv.
"Sharp satire of the imperialist reality and its predatory nature was a popular genre of Soviet propaganda. Exposing the hypocrisy and duplicity of the West always resonated with the Soviet public. In this “animated poster”, disarmament serves as a pacifist mask, revealing the true militaristic ambitions of the bourgeoisie." – Stanislav Menzelevskyi
AA: Animation based on graphic poster design, with drawings, water colour, cut-outs, and letters, in limited animation, also with live action footage reduced to graphic elements, propaganda against American imperialism. The images are stark, the propaganda not subtle.
PROHULNYK [L’assenteista/The Absentee] (Tsentralna Animatsiyna maysternia VUFKU, Kyiv – UkrSSR 1929) D, SC, AN: Yakov? Roytman; DCP, 1'58" (25 fps); titles: UKR; print source: Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Film Centre, Kyiv.
"The internal policy of the Soviet Union was primarily determined by the constant search for enemies of the State. In a detention camp you could find kulaks, bourgeois nationalists, and formalists, as well as “naturalists” (Soviet artists who were accused of the over-poeticization of nature instead of promoting the Party’s prescribed glorification of industry). This “animated poster” introduces another class enemy – the absentee. For the Soviet system, based on the sanctity of labour, an absentee was not just a social outcast, but an infernal heretic. This cartoon makes clear why not only Soviet citizens abandon him, but also class-conscious Soviet animals." – Stanislav Menzelevskyi
AA: Animation by cut-outs of drawings, and text; propaganda against work-evaders. Pantheistic animation: even the benches and the lamp-posts reproach the absentee. The graphic design is stark.
BEREZHIT’ PAPIR [Salviamola carta / Save Paper] (Tsentralna Animatsiyna maysternia VUFKU, Kyiv – UkrSSR 1930) D, SC, AN: Yakov? Roytman; DCP, 2'52" (25 fps); titles: UKR; print source: Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Film Centre, Kyiv.
"One of the few environmental cartoons of the early Soviet era, Save Paper sharply criticizes the inefficiency of bureaucracy. With a Kafkaesque scenario, this “animated poster” depicts the drama of an average man caught in a bureaucratic trap. The cartoon encourages people simply to reject excessive paperwork, eliminate useless bureaucrats, optimize industrial production, and use recycling technologies." – Stanislav Menzelevskyi
AA: Animation by drawing and painting, a fable, propaganda against bureaucracy and for recycling. In the "State Control Whatever Board" the customer is bullied into a vicious circle of red tape. Spiders and mice thrive in the archives. They would be best burned. "Recycle used paper".
PALATS MYSTETSTV SSSR [Il Palazzo dell’Arte sovietico / The USSR Palace of Art] (? – RSFSR?, 1930) D, SC, AN: Nikolay Hodatayev?; DCP, 2'32" (25 fps); titles: UKR; print source: Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Film Centre, Kyiv.
"It is thought that the animated film Palats Mystetstv SSSR (The USSR Palace of Art), part of the 10th issue of the newsreel Kinozhurnal VUFKU (1930), was probably produced by Russian animators from Nikolay Hodatayev’s circle (this attribution is by Peter Bagrov and Georgiy Borodin). The film depicts the psychedelic spectacle of a group of animated musical instruments, theatrical costumes, and other attributes of art rushing at full speed into a new Palace of Art. As art in the USSR was never an autonomous sphere, such a Soviet project for a dedicated aesthetic space was not just for a superstructure – it went beyond that, creating a new, utopian dimension of Soviet reality." – Stanislav Menzelevskyi
AA: Animation by drawing and inking and some stop motion, a celebration of the Soviet Palace of Art. The scenes of the animated symbols of all the arts are inspired. There is an inspiration of the experimental cinema in this movie. A great ending to the show.
AA: An excellent, well edited and introduced compilation DCP. Warmly recommended for schools of art and design.