Past Continuous: Conflicting Historical Legacies in Contemporary East European Cinema

Tuesday, 27 May 2014, 6:00pm - 8:00pm, Blickle Kino, 21er Haus

IWM Film Retrospective 2014

Curated by Izabela Kalinowska-Blackwood and Oksana Sarkisova

S.P.A.R.T.A – Territory of Happiness (S.P.A.R.T.A.  Territoria Schast’ia)
Director: Anna Moiseenko (2013, Russia, 56 minutes, OmU)

Sparta2This documentary focuses on S.P.A.R.T.A., a “poetic agricultural commune” dwelling in the East Ukrainian village of Caravan. In the early 1990s, the founder of the commune developed his own “Theory of happiness,” which the members have painstakingly followed for the past 20 years. In this system, happiness comes at a price: all commune members must accept a strict hierarchical system, do their share of hard physical work, and develop their spirit through obligatory poetry-writing. Convinced of the world’s ongoing degeneration, the “Spartans” live according to war-time laws. The commune has its own hymn, flag, and legal code, drawing strongly on Soviet vocabulary and symbols. The lower ranks report directly to senior ranks without demur. These laws forbid sexual relations, smoking, cursing, alcohol, and drugs. We are introduced to the inner workings of the collective through the eyes of a young idealist, Sasha, who spent a year in the commune but finally decided to leave. Will she be able to quit this close-knit community which considers departure a betrayal?

Director: Askold Kurov (Russia / Germany / The Netherlands, 2013, 52 minutes, OmU)


leninland1In the USSR, the cult of Lenin had replaced the Orthodox religion that Communists wanted to eliminate. At the end of Soviet era, in the village of Gorky, 20 kilometres from Moscow, the last and the most ambitious Museum of Lenin was built. In its former days it had 3000 visitors per week; now it’s only 20. Today it looks like a temple from some forgotten civilization, a place that has fallen out of time. But faithful to the ideas of Lenin, the keepers of the museum remain. They wait for sporadic visitors in the abandoned halls—and for the return of former times. In this documentary, the story of the museum is shown through the two main characters, Evgenia and Natalya, the caretakers of the museum. Natalya is 52 years old, a history teacher at the local school who is devoted to the museum and the communist ideology. 56 year-old Evgenia is a new-age believer; she worships all sorts of gods and considers Lenin one of the biggest among them. But after 10 years of dedicated work in the museum, she now wants to leave to continue her spiritual journey in another place.

Followed by a discussion with:

Askold Kurov, born 1974 in Uzbekistan, is a film director, cinematographer and film producer who lives in Russia since 1991. He studied Philology, Theatre Science and Theology. In 2010 he graduated from Moscow’s Marina Razbezkina Film School.

Izabela Kalinowska-Blackwood is Associate Professor of Comparative Slavic Studies. Her Research interests include Polish and Soviet/Russian cinemas, gendered notions of identity, nationalism, and colonial and post-colonial studies.

Oksana Sarkisova is Associate Research Fellow at the Open Society Archive and the Department of Legal Studies, Central European University, Budapest. Since 2004 she is Program Director of the annual Verzio International Documentary Human Rights Film Festival in Budapest.

Timothy Snyder is the Bird White Housum Professor of History at Yale University and Permanent Fellow of the Institute for Human Sciences. His most recent book is Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin.

Entrance fee: 5 Euros

Blickle Kino:
21er Haus, Schweizergarten, Arsenalstraße 1, 1030 Wien

 Film Retrospective – Program

Official cultural policy in socialist  Eastern Europe defined film as the principal cultural form for shaping the consciousness of the masses. Yet the implementation of ideological demands for an overt politicization of the cinematic image during the socialist period turned out to be a double-edged sword, as filmmakers increasingly appropriated moving images to express dissenting political sentiments. After the change of the regime changess in Eastern Europe in 1989, the countries in the region had to re-evaluate their ideological heritage and give a new reading to the contested legacy of the 20th century. Filmmakers throughout the post-socialist space have engaged in re-examining the past by focusing on issues of identity and otherness, and exploring the mechanisms of control and resistance. This series of film screenings and subsequent discussions offers insights into a variety of ways in which the recent past continues to be revisited and relevant for to the present.

Monday, May 5, 6:00pm
In the Fog (V tumane)
Director: Sergei Loznitsa (Germany / Latvia / Russia / The Netherlands / Belarus, 2012, 128 min, OmU)

Monday, May 12, 6:00pm
The Dark House (Dom zły)
Director: Wojciech Smarzowski (Poland, 2009, 105 minutes, OmU)

Monday, May 19, 6:00pm
All That I Love (Wszystko co kocham)
Director: Jacek Borcuch (Poland, 2009, 91 minutes, OmU)



In cooperation with Blickle Kino, 21er Haus and with the generous support of the Polish Embassy, Vienna.