One hundred years of Soviet cinema? How is this possible, if the USSR itself lasted barely seven decades before its spectacular demise in 1991? How can we speak of the continued existence of Soviet cinema in the quarter-century since this apocalyptic event? But from Battleship Potemkin to The Colour of Pomegranates, from Man with a Movie Camera to Stalker, from The Cranes Are Flying to Hard to be a God, cinema from the “sixth of the world” covered by the Soviet Union continues, indefatigably, to exist. Firstly, because films made during the era of Communist rule are still with us, even well after the social and political framework in which they were realised has perished. And secondly, because, even to this day, the history of the USSR looms large in the cinema of Russia and the other former Soviet republics, as contemporary filmmakers engage in the vast project of digesting the tragic history of the Soviet experiment.
The centenary of the October 1917 Russian revolution, when under Lenin’s leadership the Bolsheviks established the world’s first proletarian state, was marked by a major dossier on Soviet cinema in the Australian online film journal Senses of Cinema. This book is an augmented version of that dossier, collecting more than 60 articles on Soviet and post-Soviet films arranged in chronological order, and represents the first collaboration between Senses of Cinema and Leda Tapes Organisation.