Please join us on Monday, March 26th for “The Soviet Filmmakers in Africa: Between Propaganda & the Art of Filmmaking”, a talk with documentary filmmaker and Visiting Fulbright Scholar at NYU, Alexander Markov.
The 1960s witnessed the heyday of African studies in the Soviet Union. A number of Soviet filmmakers were dispatched to the continent to produce newsreels and documentary films whose mission was to record the “friendships” between the Soviet socialist specialists at the helm of scientific progress and the African socialist hopefuls who had just broken free from the yoke of colonialism. The documentaries produced during the Thaw are peculiar, because while they toe the ideological line, they are nonetheless imbued with the loosening of inhibitions that permeated Soviet society at the time. So while an ideologically motivated eye will only see what it wants to see, in these films, the cinematographer’s lens betrays a tangibly genuine curiosity about the “otherness” of African reality that would be impossible to counterfeit. In contrast with the footage of official parades and collective farms, the films also capture ordinary people going about their everyday lives. The camera conveys the contradictory emotions and mindset of the people standing behind them, in which simple, unfiltered affection and enthusiasm blend with the cinematic idioms of the era.
Alexander Markov is a documentary filmmaker, cinema historian and artist. He directs films in Saint Petersburg and abroad, teaches documentary directing at Saint Petersburg State Institute of Film and Television, and works as an independent curator. His video installations were shown at Sharjah Biennial, Calvert 22, Iwalewahaus, africa.cont, CEU etc. Markov’s films were participated and awarded prizes at various international film festivals like Berlinale Talents 2015, DocPoint, Sheffield Doc, Film Africa,Message To Man, NYAFF, Artdocfest, Cinefest, Directors Lounge, Stalker, Temps De Images and others. Markov has directed a number of documentary films, including: Museum of Dreams (5 min, 35 mm, 2000); Lullaby (20 min, 35 mm, 2002); Cities within Cities (26 min, BetaSP, 2003); Russian Costa Rica (52 min, HDV, 2008); Two Highways (26 min, BetaSP, 2008); Pastoral (26 min, HDV, 2008); Delusion (7 min, HDV, 2010); Children of the Sun (15 min, HD, 2011); Get Used to This Place (15 min, HD, 2011); German Portraits Russian Style (15 min, HD, 2012); Our Africa (45 Min., HD, 2018).