Course module - Post-Communist Cinema
Code : RUSS30412 Credit rating: 20 Semester : 2
Objectives (Learning Outcomes)
On successful completion of this course unit, students will have developed the ability to:
• identify the key issues and trends in post-communist Eastern European and Russian cinema from 1989 to the present
• locate these issues in the contexts of post-communist politics, Eastern European and Russian cultural and cinematic history, and the development of cinema in the global age
• analyse films in terms of their aesthetic ‘language’ and system of representation
• identify and explain both features of Eastern European and Russian cinema unique to those traditions, and those common to contemporary film in general
Students will also acquire and/or improve their ability to:
• sustain a written argument in a coherent and well structured manner
• convey information and original ideas in a short oral presentation
• evaluate the relative merit of different ideas and approaches arising during group tasks
• compare and analyse visual texts
• use relevant printed and electronic sources
Two assessed essays of approximately 2500 words each (40% each) and an in-class group presentation (20%). In addition, students are expected to participate actively in discussions. While these aspects of the course are not assessed as such, 5% will be subtracted from the final course mark for failure to comply with these requirements.
Language of Assessment: English
Feedback: Nature and Timing of Feedback
Comments made during class discussion regarding the relevance and coherence of student responses/participation in discussion. (In other words, you should be able to judge from the discussion which ideas are better or worse)
In-class comments on oral presentations
Written comments plus face-to-face discussion if desired (on the understanding that this de-anonymises the student’s work)
With the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the USSR, formerly state-funded – but often politically restricted – national cinemas were confronted with a radical threat to their survival in the face of exposure to market forces. Crucially, this practical challenge coincided with a period wherein cultural activity was arguably as necessary as ever in providing a space and a language for reflecting upon and understanding the significant social, cultural and political transformations entailed by the post-communist transition period.
On-screen, new genres and styles emerged for a number of reasons – whether in response to experiences of so-called ‘transition’ or simply the need to appeal to either mass domestic audiences or international (and awards festival) ones in order to secure funding. Meanwhile, by and large the removal of political censorship expanded the range of topics and themes accessible to filmmakers in some respects – though the emergence of new taboos restricted expression in other ways.
This module will cover a broad selection of Eastern European and Russian cinematic culture since 1989, considering artistic and creative outputs in the context of local cultures and societies, as well as within the global cinema and media landscape. Main topics covered will include: (1) the break-up of Yugoslavia on screen; (2) Cinema and the communist past; (3) Artistic innovation: new styles and genres; (4) Film culture and national identity; (5) Representations of gender (6) changing practical & political challenges to film production.
1. Introduction to Eastern European and Russian cinema in the ‘90’s: From communism – to what?
2. The break-up of Yugoslavia on screen I: The ‘neo-war’ film (Pretty Village, Pretty Flame - Srdjan Dragojevic, 1996)
3. The break-up of Yugoslavia on screen II: Aftermath and consequences (Grbavica – Jasmila Zbanic, 2006)
4. New genres for changing societies I: Neo-noir in Serbia (The Trap – Srdjan Golubovic, 2007)
5. New genres for changing societies II: the Policier and the ‘social issue’ film in Romania (Police, adjective – Corneliu Porumbiou, 2009; and 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days – Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
6. Representing the past I: Narratives of guilt and conflict in Russia and Poland (Katyn – Andrzej Wajda, 2007; and Prisoner of the Mountains – Sergei Bodrov, 1996)
7. Representing the past II: Memories of communism (Marsal – Vinko Bresan, 1999; and Burnt by the Sun – Nikita Mikhalkov, 1994).
8. Identity Politics I: Self image and national identity in Russia (Films of Aleksei Balabanov)
9. Identity politics II: ‘Europeanisation’ in Balkan cinema (Armin – Ognjen Svilicic, 2008; and On the Path – Jasmila Zbanic, 2010)
10. Identity politics III: The cinema of small nations (and fledgling industries) in Kosovo (Kukumi – Isa Qosja, 2006)
11. Cinematic style and the legacy of Andrei Tarkovski: Andrei Zviagintsev and Bela Tarr
Contact hours: 1 hour weekly lecture
1 weekly film screening with introductory presentation (approx 2 hours)
1 hour weekly seminar discussion
Language of Teaching: English (All films screened will feature English subtitles)
eLearning: The online journal KinoKultura (http://www.kinokultura.com/) is an excellent source of academic reviews and articles relating to the most recent period of Eastern European and Russian post-communist Cinema (2003 onwards).
www.cineuropa.org is a useful source of up-do-date news on current productions, director interviews, and industry data for most European cinemas – with an ever expanding coverage of Eastern Europe.
www.novikadrovi.net is an example of a dedicated, high-quality, online-only, news and reviews multi-authored blog (in this case covering Serbian cinema – but offering an English language site as well).
There will be an extensive Blackboard site, containing a range of materials, including links to the above as well as a more detailed list of e-resources.
Set reading materials will be supplied via Blackboard and in photocopied form at the beginning of the semester.
Beumers, Birgit., (ed.) Russia on Reels. (London: IB Tauris, 1999)
Goulding, Daniel., Liberated Cinema: The Yugoslav Experience, 1945-2001. (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2002)
Gillespie, David. C., Russian Cinema (London: Longmans, 2003)
Hames, Peter., Czech and Slovak Cinema: Theme and Tradition (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010)
Horton, Andrew, The Zero Hour: Glasnost and Soviet Cinema in Transition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992)
Iordanova, Dina., Cinema of the Other Europe (London: Wallflower, 2003)
Iordanova, Dina., New Bulgarian Cinema (St Andrews: College Gate Press, 2008).
Levi, Pavle., Disintegration in Frames: Aesthetics and Ideology in the Yugoslav and Post-Yugoslav Cinema. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007).
Mazierska, Ewa., European Cinema and Intertextuality: History, Memory, Politics (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).
Mazierska, Ewa., Masculinities in Polish, Czech and Slovak Cinema: Black Peters and Men of Marble, (Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2009).
Mazierska, Ewa., Women in Polish Cinema (Oxford: Berghahn, 2006)
Studies in Eastern European Cinema (Intellect)
Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema (Intellect)