Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

Lessons in Revolution on the Western Border: Uprisings in Ukraine and Belarus in 1920s-1930s Soviet Film

Fri31  Mar03:00pm(15 mins)
Gilbert Scott Room 253
Mr Pavel Stepanov


Pavel Stepanov1
1 University of Cambridge, MMLL, UK


Throughout the 1920s-1930s the concept of Soviet internationalism was communicated to audiences via literature, journals and filmic educational practices in cinemas and workers’ clubs. Workers and peasants were lectured about the spread of the world revolution in the West, in the East and in the newly formed Soviet republics. Depictions of revolutionary uprisings in Ukraine, Belarus, Central Asia and the Caucasus helped to map the cinematic borders of the Soviet state and reaffirmed the historical significance of the Bolshevik Revolution. Simultaneously, the revolutionary narrative was used to legitimise a new kind of Soviet national identity for each Soviet republic. The historical narratives presented through films about uprisings required a regulated introduction prior to screenings for audiences. This was spread to viewers and propagandists through a series of brochures, published by the Tea-Kino-Pechat’ and SNK RSFSR publishing houses. This paper examines the structure and objectives of pamphlets on films about revolutionary uprisings in the Western Soviet republics – Ukraine (Oleksandr Dovzhenko's Zvenigora, 1928 and Arsenal, 1929) and Belarus (Iurii Tarich's Do zavtra, 1929;Vladimir Korsh-Sablin's V ogne rozhdennaia, 1930) as well as the historical narratives disseminated through film screenings at worker's clubs.