Each of the 16 Socialist Soviet republics had at least one film studio. Although all filmmakers studied at the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography in Moscow, many then returned home and developed a particular film language that combined international and Soviet cinema with their country's specific pictorial traditions. However, albeit unique in the history of cinema, this communication between the center and the periphery, it has not received much attention until now. Because of the particular significance that Soviet cinema had for Arsenal there are films from all of the USSR's regions in its archive. The Living Archive festival programs are showing 20 films – half of which are features, half documentaries - from 10 republics that were made between 1930 and 1990. The main focus is on Georgian film and the very innovative short format. Classics such as Kalatozov's JIM SHVANTE and Parajanov's SAYAT NOVA, as well as films that have rarely been seen in the cinema such as Peleshian's OBITATELI, Muratova's PEREMENA UTCHASTI Chkheidze's BENZINIS CHAMOMSKHMELI, and Tyulkin's POVELITEL MUKH are being screened. Thus, the cinema of the republics will become an imaginary journey through the Soviet Union's unique imagery. (9.–18.6.)
"Arsenal isn't just an organization, it's an organism." (Naum Kleemann)
The Cuban short film POR PRIMERA VEZ by Octavio Cortázar attests to a particular film educational initiative: after a law was passed to found the ICAIC, the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry, the story of new Cuban filmmaking began on March 24, 1959, shortly after the victory of the revolution. This initiative included the government creating a “cine móvil” to promote "audiovisual literacy", the goal being to bring cinema to the most remote areas of the island.
We see how the mobile cinema enables the residents of a remote mountain village to see a film for the very first time. The film they watch is Chaplin's "Modern Times". They are asked beforehand how they imagine cinema to be. "CINEMA is FILM", is how one boy puts it, while two women reply that, "it must be something important if you're so interested in it. It must be some sort of party, I'd like to see it to find out what it is."
POR PRIMERA VEZ was digitized as a part of the Living Archive project. With the support of the Berlin Capital Cultural Fund, we were also to acquire a restored print and digital version of another film about revolution to coincide with our 50th anniversary: ARSENAL, which gave our institution its name. Alexander Dovzhenko’s third feature pays homage to the uprising at the "Arsenal" weapon's factory in Kiev in 1918 during the January Rebellion against the bourgeois nationalist government of Ukraine. We are showing both films at the birthday celebration and grand opening of Living Archive on June 4.