The Depth of Focus: Spatial Dissonance in Eurasian Film

Russia and the former Soviet Union are home to some of the most visually stunning locations in the world, so it is no surprise that film directors would choose these spaces as the settings for their films and devote much attention to their portrayals. From the bustling centre of Moscow to the gorgeous embankments in Saint Petersburg; from small provincial villages in central Russia to the deserts of Central Asia; from the Caucasus region in the south to far Siberia- remarkable and historically important areas from all corners of Eurasia have been gracing the big screen for more than a century.

The centrality of location as a theme in the films shown in this series leads the audience to ponder the significance of space as an artistic device, and also as social and cultural commentary. What is the relationship between geographic location and culture, language, and identity? How do the spaces that we occupy impact how we perceive and interact with the world? Do our locations define us? Do the inherent differences between regions render authentic communication across spatial borders impossible, or do overarching unifying traits break down these walls?

This series presents a collection of films, ranging from the 1920s to the present day, that touch on all of these questions. The various directors do not merely use location as the backdrops for their films, but they incorporate space as a cinematic device and a central theme.

In particular, these films, though spanning nearly a century and representing a wide range of genres from romantic comedy to drama to documentary, all deal with the tensions that arise from interactions between dissonant spaces. These include interactions between ethnic minorities in the borderlands and the dominant Soviet culture, the clash when technology is introduced into remote rural spaces, the dynamic between the centre and the periphery, and the relationship between the urban capital cities and remote provinces. The Eurasian films in this series focus in on the immense impact that space has on all areas of life, society, culture, personal relationships, and one’s identity.

- Laura Christians


September 21 - White Sun of the Desert (1970, dir. Vladimir Motyl, 85 min.)
September 28 - Turksib (1929, dir. Viktor Turin, 75 min.)
October 5 - Sibiryaki (1940, dir. Lev Kuleshov, 81 min.)
October 12 - The Edge (2010, dir. Alexei Uchitel, 115 min.)
October 19 - Kidnapping, Caucasian Style (1967, dir. Leonid Gaidai, 77 min.)
October 26 - Happy Go Lucky (1972, dir. Vasily Shukshin, 90 min.)
November 9 - Love and Pigeons, (1984, dir. Vladimir Menshov, 107 min.)
November 16 - The Island (2006, dir. Pavel Lungin, 112 min.)
November 30 - Piter FM (2006, dir. Oksana Bychkova, 84 min.)
December 7 - Leviathan (2014, dir. Andrei Zvyagintsev, 141 min.)
December 14 - The Postman’s White Nights (2014, dir. Andrei Konchalovsky, 90 min.)

All films have English subtitles. Food will be served at each screening.