BASEES Annual Conference 2022

Building Film Industry in 1920s Soviet Ukraine: The Case of VUFKU

Fri8  Apr02:20pm(20 mins)
Music Room




This paper unfolds the history of the All-Ukrainian Photo-Cinema Administration (VUFKU) from the perspective of film industry development. VUFKU, as a state-sponsored organization of Soviet Ukraine, monopolized film production, film distribution, film exhibition, and film education. From 1922 to 1930, VUFKU produced over one hundred and forty feature films, among them Oleksandr Dovzhenko's Earth and Dziga Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera. Situated by the Black Sea shore, the Ukrainian Hollywood showcased its financial capability, cultural autonomy and artistic output within the centralist Soviet system.

To explain how VUFKU gathered not only Ukrainian talents but also Russian and foreign experts in making the vigorous cinema world, this paper deconstructs the formation of the 1920s Ukrainian film industry from three aspects. Firstly, the early success of NEP in Soviet Ukraine secured the financial capability and economic independence of VUFKU, which also helped to attract renowned writers such as Mayakovsky and Babel to contribute movie scripts to VUFKU. Secondly, by scrutinizing VUFKU's administrative structure and institutional mechanism, one can discover how the industry took shape from three active film studios in Yalta, Odesa, and Kyiv. Lastly, the cultural collaboration and artistic synergy of pre-revolutionary filmmakers, futurist writers, and avant-garde artists and actors created VUFKU's many exceptional works.