The Big Picture lectures program
We live in a world in which constant self-education is becoming a foundation essential for mutual understanding even within one culture. Attempts to chase the fleeting reality are likely futile, but it is possible to understand that changing is normal, and that a renewed knowledge of ourselves and the world is what makes us reel.
This year's lectures will see leading academics and cultural luminaries talk about current state of culture. Film critic Denis Gorelov and Kommersant-Weekend culture writer Igor Gulin will open the program with a public discussion on recent past: the Soviet cinema's influence on Soviet audiences. On the following day, anthropologist Ilya Utekhin will talk about ethnographer's work and describe what happens when we see the world through a camera lens. The third lecture will be given by folklore scholar Svetlana Adonieva who will discuss changes in society's attitude towards history as memory and ideology. Philosopher Artemy Magun will talk about the historical meaning of restructuring and transformation of the 1990s in the USSR and Russia. The series will be closed by poet and translator Alexander Skidan – he will define social poetry and tell how contemporary literature follows the Soviet underground tradition of the 1950-1980s.
The lectures are open for all guests and audiences with any background, and also assist the students of the festival's educational programs in understanding what we know about human and society today. Your admission to each lecture is intellectual curiosity and willingness to learn how are we changed by society, culture and technology that surround the modern human.
Schedule and descriprion
June 15. Public Talk. Denis Gorelov, Igor Gulin. How to watch Soviet films?
The series will be opened with a public talk between film critic Denis Gorelov and Igor Gulin, literature writer for Kommersant Weekend, about mutual influence of Soviet films and Soviet life and what makes late Soviet cinema interesting.
Igor Gulin thinks that "for an average viewer from intelligentsia late Soviet films are divided into three groups: art cinema masterpieces (Tarkovsky, German, Muratova)", popular hits (Gaiday, Ryazanov, Seventeen Moments of Spring) and everything else." According to the critic, this cinema may be "odd, annoying, but sometimes attractive and breaking our expectations somewhat. There isn't a fine line between the three groups but there is no doubt that the groups exist." Igor Gulin says: "It is this third group that interests me most: films of a different social and aesthetic order, which includes genres that are usually considered dutifully ideological – production drama, revolution period piece – genres, in which the question of the Soviet world's very existence is brought up. The state of late Soviet cinema is often described in terms of crisis: a crisis of language that stems from the crisis of politics and ethics. We don't have to challenge this diagnosis. We might try to change it from within: understand the crisis and instead of seeing it as degradation look at it as an acute state, in which a society's destiny is decided with an unseen exertion."
In Denis Gorelov's articles, books and public talks, he explores Soviet society through the history of Soviet film releases and analyzes films seen by tens of millions. "My topic is popular cinema as the nation's self-portrait, an accurate depiction of Russians' and former satellites' idea of themselves. National spirit, myths, phobias and prejudices, and genres in which Russians had no equal in the Soviet era: war movie, women's movie, school movie, village films, intelligence films. My mission is to challenge the made-up notion, created by the post-Soviet scholarship, that Russian cinema is limited to seven names of arthouse fame. What's more, watching an old picture requires substantial commentary on Soviet way of life at the time of release, genre choices and pop-cultural myth of the era's Russian world. Nabokov required the same of teaching Russian literature in foreign colleges; his method should be applied to Russian film as well (Ilyich's Gate being the most salient case). While most commentators are prejudiced and Moscow elites are ignorant about their own country, cartoonish genre of a funny story, a parable and an adage gets the best of the bargain, since precision in detail or extensive explanation are not required. Today's television production, following the mission of the "sometimely" Soviet film, is moving towards anecdote, as developed by White Sun of the Desert, The Elusive Avengers and How Czar Peter the Great Married Off His Moor."
Moderated by film critic Konstantin Shavlovsky