"Psychiatry in Russia" & "Letter from Siberia" [THE THAW: Proto-verite in the Soviet Union]
THE THAW: Proto-verite in the Soviet Union
Psychiatry in Russia
Dir. Albert Maysles, 1955, 14 min.
This rarely-screened film was the first professional film Albert Maysles made and the one that got him hooked. While still teaching Psychiatry at Boston University Albert Maysles received a small amount of money to make this film in the Soviet Union. Entering the country for the first time, speaking almost no Russian with very little money Albert was still able to pull- off this excellent film. When he first entered the Soviet Union Albert Maysles had no contacts whatsoever. At his hotel he ran into the famous African- American journalist William Worthy Jr. who invited him to attend a cocktail at the Romanian Embassy even though he was subsequently unable to get Albert Maysles on the guest list. With a nod and a wink from the guards Albert managed to get into the cocktail party where he met some of the most important people in the Soviet Union at the time. It was there that Mikhail Pervukhin, a high ranking official in the Soviet Politburo, introduced him to head of Psychiatry for the Soviet Union. It was this contact that allowed Albert Maysles to finally finish the film. The movie in it's profiling of various asylums and mental institutions in the Soviet Union reveals as much about the ordinary man in Russia as it does about the so-called insane.
Letter from Siberia
Dir. Chris Marker, 1957, 57 min.
Letter from Siberia was Chris Marker's first feature and an unforgettable cinematic essay/travelogue on Siberia, communism, the Soviet Union, the role of film, the traveler as well as the immediacies of both time and place. The film foreshadowed Chris Marker's reflexive and experiemental approach to the documentary format which would both become hallmarks of his unique approach to cinema verite. This film is rich in both imagery and voice-over material where Chris Marker speaks through a voice that is not his own. The film is famous for a scene of streets, buses and workers repairing a road that repeats three times. Once with a commentary that is clearly pro-Soviet, a second time with a commentary that sounds like United States propaganda and a third time where the commentary is merely observational. "A work such as Letter From Siberia demonstrates that place can only ever be event. It is this identification and elucidation of the singularities of place, moment, memory, in a screen-based medium, that will be Marker's lasting legacy." - Adrian Miles, Senses of Cinema
AFTER THE SCREENING: Panel Discussion with director Albert Maysles and special guest.
Moderated by Matt Peterson
These films are presented with Red Channels and the Brecht Forum.
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