Category Archives: Soviet Film Collection

The Soviet Film Collection catalog is searchable online!

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It’s been a minute since we’ve revisited the Soviet Film Collection in the blogosphere, but work on the collection has been continuing here at the archive. We are happy to announce that the catalog of films is now searchable online in HOLLIS+, the Harvard Library online catalog.

A staff screening of a few short films from the collection introduced a new favorite for our conservation team: Lõputu Päev or Endless Day (1971/1990), directed by Jaan Tooming & Virve Aruoja.

This experimental film was banned under the Soviets and ordered for destruction at the time of its initial production in 1970. Fortunately, Director Virve Aruoja saved the prints and brought them safely out of the country. The film was completed in 1991 after decades of hidden storage but not released until 2006. This delayed premiere did not do much to dampen the powerful effect of Endless Day; the film unfolds like a visceral absurdist dream with jarring movement and a cutting soundtrack. The National Gallery of Art has a wonderful article on the film’s history and production, which can be found here.

You can also view the film in its entirety online through the Estonian Public Broadcasting website.

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We will continue posting about screenings and new finds from the Soviet Film Collection as they occur. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy searching the catalog and finding your own favorites!

Soviet Collection wrap-up

A few folks have asked about the status of our processing for the Soviet Film Collection. We have wrapped up the main aspects of this massive processing project and the films are now safely in our cold storage vault. Stay tuned for updates on access and future screenings from this collection. In the meantime, we have a time lapse video record of the (often relentless seeming) process.  This video is courtesy of Soviet Film Collection project employee (and accomplished filmmaker/photographer/artist) Michael Hutcherson.

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Soviet Film Collection project staff celebrating the last day of the project with a Soviet Film themed cake. From left to right: Liz Coffey, Michael Hutcherson, Laurel Gildersleeve, Adrianne Jorge

 

Images from the Soviet Film Collection

We have come across some compelling images in the Soviet Film Collection prints. Herewith a selection of our staff favorites, with photos from project film specialist Adrianne Jorge:

 

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A Great Life (1939)

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The Legend of Suram Fortress (1984)

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Regina (1990)

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The Legend of Suram Fortress (1984)

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The Legend of Suram Fortress (1984)

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Watch out for the Automobile! (1966)

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Malva (1957)

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The Thirteenth Apostle (1988)

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The Thirteenth Apostle (1988)

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Tears Dripped (1983)

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Unidentified film

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Unidentified film

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We are from Kronstadt (1936)

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We are from Kronstadt (1936)

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Native Blood (1963)

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A Great Life (1939)

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Twenty-Six Commissars (1932)

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Twenty-Six Commissars (1932)

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Twenty-Six Commissars (1932)

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Unidentified film

International Archives Day!

Today marks International Archives Day! We are celebrating by working through our very last pallet of film prints from the newly acquired Soviet Film collection. Here are some before and after photos to show the processing work undertaken for the rehousing and preservation of these films:

The prints in their original containers

The prints in their original containers

Prints rehoused in new preservation cans

Prints rehoused in new preservation cans

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Star project employee Adrianne Jorge, hard at work!

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Cataloged and stored in boxes, these prints are ready for cold storage

Cbema film stock

While processing our recently acquired Soviet Film Collection we came across some stocks with unusual color fading properties. One stock in particular was perplexing: Cbema (or Svema.) Even new prints on Cbema stock frequently look faded to pink or orange, and often have extreme differences in fading between reels. Some research uncovered this great article about how these odd fading properties were utilized by filmmakers to communicate aesthetically the bleak realities many faced in former Soviet countries.

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Although many of the Cbema prints we have encountered thus far have been faded, there are some titles with decent color, as pictured below.

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New collection of Soviet films

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Over the next few months the HFA will be processing a large collection of feature films from the former Soviet Union. This collection of Soviet Cinema prints was collected in the 1990s by several collectors in Latvia. There is a great range of titles from the silent era to the late 1990s. 14 pallets of 35mm film canisters came in to the Harvard Depository, our offsite storage facility, this morning, and we brought some select titles back to the conservation center to begin work immediately.
We’ll be posting more about this collection and any unique findings as we process the films.

First batch brought back to 625

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anamorphic format Nachalo

Stay tuned!