The Kulturfilm: A LECTURE FROM HIROAKI KUROMIYA AND SCREENING OF ENTHUSIASM
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On April 7, at 18:30, the Kulturfilm. Cinematographic Revision of the Donbasproject kicks off with its first event – a screening ofENTHUSIASM (Symphony of the Donbas) (dir. Dziga Vertov, 1930) and a lecture from History Professor from Indiana University, researcher of cinema and the Donbas Hiroaki Kuromiya.
More lectures and film screenings are planned as part of this project, so follow the updates.
Schedule for April 7:
Lecture “Vertov, Enthusiasm and the Donbas” from Hiroaki Kuromiya (USA/Japan), read in Russian;
Screening of ENTHUSIASM (Symphony of the Donbas) (dir. Dziga Vertov, 1930).
Dovzhenko Center Art Cluster, 1 Vasylkivska St.
The Cinematographic Revision of the Donbasproject is supported by:
Rosa Luxemburg Foundation / Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung
State Foundation for Fundamental Research
Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Center
ENTHUSIASM (Symphony of the Donbas)
Directed by Dziga Vertov
Cinematography by Boris Zeitlin
Assistant director and editing by Elizaveta Svilova
Sound by Petro Shtro
The film features fragments from the 1st Symphony by Dmitriy Shostakovich
Production of UKRAINFILM, 1930
Remastered in 2011
With English subtitles
Enthusiasm (Symphony of the Donbas) is the first Ukrainian sound film. Made in 1930 by the world-class master of the cinematic avant-garde Dziga Vertov, it became the first motion picture in which real-life industrial and everyday sounds served not only to illustrate the visual imagery, but also to create an independent musical image.
Dedicated to the first five-year plan, the film celebrates industrialization and collectivization, as well as propagates fight against illiteracy and religion. Enthusiasm was shot in the year when the authorities began to shut down the Ukrainization program, elements of which were captured by the camera of the cameraman Boris Zeitlin.
The film, which Charlie Chaplin referred to as one of the most impressive sound symphonies, was released in theaters on April 2, 1931, yet removed from distribution shortly afterwards and soon forgotten. It was rediscovered only in the 1960s thanks to the renewed interest to the Soviet avant-garde in the West.
The film was restored by Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Feature Film Studio on request of the State Film Agency of Ukraine in 2011.
I would never have believed it possible to assemble mechanical noises to create such beauty. One of the most superb symphonies I have known. Dziga Vertov is a musician. Professors should learn from him, not argue with him.
Hiroaki Kuromiya is a Japanese-American historian. Got his Master's degree at Tokyo University and Ph.D. at Princeton. Professor in the Department of History at Indiana University (Bloomington, USA). Specializes in Soviet history, in particular the times of Stalinism, repressions, and the history of the Cold War. Visited the Donbas over a period of ten years, researching the region. Author of fundamental research Freedom and Terror in the Donbas: A Ukrainian-Russian Borderland, 1870s-1990s, written at King's College (Cambridge, UK).
Hiroaki Kuromiya. Photo by tyzhden.ua
Even in today's globalized world the name of the Donbas has not been widely recognized outside the former Soviet Union until the present day, when Russia launched a war against Ukraine under the guise of supporting the so-called separatists. While some people outside the former Soviet Union may know that it is a large industrial center of mining and metallurgy comparable with, for example, the Ruhr region in Germany in terms of scale, most people have never heard of it. However, two historical precedents make the Donbas known in certain circles outside the Soviet Union: the famous film by Dziga Vertov Enthusiasm (Symphony of the Donbas) (1930) and proletarian hero Aleksey Stakhanov, a miner whose record-breaking feat took place in the Donbas in 1935. The latter gave life to a new adjective, "stakhanovskiy” (“Stakhanovite"), which means hard and productive work. Anyway, Vertov’s film did not make the Donbas known to the general public outside the Soviet Union. As to Stakhanov, the world barely recognizes and does not really care that he is a Soviet hero, a native of the Donbas. The Russian military intervention in spring of 2014 made the Donbas known to the world. So we have a wonderful yet sad opportunity to see how the Donbas is represented in the famous film by Vertov.