Eisenstein’s October and marking the Russian Revolution on Film

By Justine Waddell, founder of Kino Klassika

It is 100 years since the Russian Revolution, an event which unleashed a period of radical creativity across all the art forms, not least in film. The first generation of Soviet film makers produced a new and provocative kind of filmmaking that, when it traveled around the world, truly challenged the status quo. The leading lights of that early Soviet film movement, among them film directors Sergei Eisenstein, Dziga Vertov, Aleksandr Dovzhenko and Vsevolod Pudovkin, created a new and highly influential language of filmmaking. They made some of the greatest and most powerful films of all time, films which to this day influence filmmakers across the world.

Yet, on the whole, we remain unaware of this far-reaching legacy. That is why, the charity Kino Klassika, dedicated to restoring classic Russian language film, has organised this year the film festival ‘A World to Win: A Century of Revolution on Screen’. The festival screens films from around the world at London’s iconic Regent St Cinema, to mark the impact of those early films and their legacy on generations of filmmakers.

‘A World to Win’ takes its title from Marx and Engel’s Manifesto call to revolution. It is the aim of the film season to trace a suggestion of that legacy across 100 years. Highlights of the season include a unique screening of Sergei Eisenstein’s classic Battleship Potemkin (1925), with a wholly improvised and unrehearsed accompaniment by Max Reinhardt, BBC Radio 3 Late Night Junction presenter and an ‘instant orchestra’ made up of expert jazz and contemporary musicians as well as volunteers from the audience. We also screen films by later generations of Russian film makers, such as Palme d’Or winner Mikhail Kalatozov’s passionate and poetic I am Cuba, which, while best remembered for its dizzying cinematography, is also an impassioned plea against the poverty and degradation of pre-Revolutionary Cuba.

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