In the twenties, an alternative and independent film simultaneously appeared in France, Germany and America – as an alternative to comedy and tragedies, whose commercial essence hampered the development of the cinema language. At a completely new turn, which came to the beginning of the 60s, it already covered five sixths of the land, got its own cinemas, festivals, distribution companies and film magazines. Subsequently, it reached a stable level of existence, and in the mid-80s it came to video and digital art.

Meanwhile what happened in the Soviet Union? The freedom to experiment that were manifested in Eisenstein’s and Dziga Vertov’s films ceased to exist with coming power of Stalin. Since then, the era of fresh, approved by the censorship of Soviet realism has been settled for 60 years in Soviet cinema. It was impossible to make a film outside of the main state film studio »Mosfilm«, outside of the artistic council or film amateurs club. Something was done contrary to, but nothing was independent.

In Russia, the underground started to speak the cinema language at the very last moment, which is completely natural. The first steps of parallel cinema were made in the 1960s within the framework of amateur cinema. It was either set aside or crushed by the intervention of trade unions, which were dictating the amateur filmmaking. The only place where parallel cinema could appear was a purely individual, home and underground production. Since the mid-80s, almost simultaneously and independently from each other, the Aleynikov Brothers and Evgeny Yufit began to show their first works in private flats among nonconformist artists, poets and musicians. By that time, Igor Aleynikov started to make self-published magazine »CINE FANTOM«. Mainly, the editors of the magazine are the parallel filmmakers, together with film critics, they publish their own texts there focusing on video art and experimental film.

On November 14, 1987, the first »CINE FANTOM« festival was held in the fully crowded cultural house »Youth« at Moscow outskirts. More or less, from this day »Parallel Cinema« started to exist an organized movement. Due to social changes, the status of »Parallel Cinema« began to change. Without any problems, films began to be shown at festivals, including quite official cinema venues. Meanwhile, parallel filmmakers received international recognition and their films were broadly shown at film festivals such as Oberhausen, Ann Arbor and many others. It turned out that the filmmakers could collaborate with state film-studios. They started to make official debut short films and planed their features. It seemed that »Parallel Cinema« disappeared. And it did as a social phenomenon of the underground culture. Farewell avant-garde!

After 29 years »Parallel Cinema« will come back to Hamburg Short Film Festival where according to the festival archive some of the films were screened as well. After the screening we will have a Q/A with the filmmaker Evgeny »Debil« Kondratyev.

Thirty years after the birth and disappearance of the «Parallel Cinema». A new movement, a new wave in Russian cinema still didn’t happen. Experimental cinema has disappeared, as a term, just as Super 8 film ceased to be used by artists, simply ceasing to be sold. The term »video art« has firmly established itself to refer to moving image experiments shown exclusively in the space of galleries and museums of contemporary art. In a local russian context, such films are very niche and practically unobtrusive, and therefore safe and incapable of influencing something. Today, in a period of increasing censorship, when state support for cinema is closely connected with the political agenda, we are waiting for a “Shift”. Shift in power and paradigm shifts. We are waiting for a new movement, new cinema and new avant-garde.
«Shift» programme is trying to examine what is independent, experimental film and video art today in Russia, trying to anticipate narratives that may already come tomorrow.

Film selection Vladimir Nadein

Programme 1: Farewell Avant-garde
Wednesday, 5th of June | 7 pm | Metropolis
Saturday, 8th of June | 6 pm | Lichtmeß
Programme 2: Shift
Wednesday, 5th of June | 9 pm | Metropolis
Friday, 7th of June | 9.45 pm | Lichtmeß

FORUM: Cut it out! Of Vanguards and Censorship
70 years ago, the German constitution became effective, making it the foundation of the German nation and its system of democratic cooperation. Among its core values, alongside the inviolability of human dignity, article 5 determined the freedom from censorship: »Every person shall have the right freely to express and disseminate his opinions in speech, writing and pictures […] There shall be no censorship«. A quick glance at other countries reveals that even in nations that describe themselves as democratic, censorship is being increasingly used as a (cultural-)political instrument. In the face of massive political, social, technological and ecological challenges, freedom of speech seems to be turning into an expendable good in the eyes of many. Democracy must be contended for every day!

To talk about this, we invited the following speakers to our forum: Dr Wolf Iro, director of the Tel Aviv Goethe Institute and former director of regional programme work at the Moscow Goethe Institute. He is the initiator of the film project »Cut it out«. The Chinese film maker Popo Fan, an exile who is now making his home in Berlin, and the curator of the programme »There is no movement – NOW!«, Vladimir Nadein, director of the Moscow International Experimental Film Festival.
The discussion is accompanied by films from the Goethe Institute project »Cut it out – Films Against Censorship«, for which directors from 20 countries created short films of 45 seconds against censorship. These films set a visible sign of solidarity with people in all countries in which freedom of speech is limited. They intend to warn of the dangers of censorship that are threatening liberal countries as well.

Popo Fan (b. 1985) is a Chinese queer filmmaker, activist and writer. His early activism documentaries on LGBTI+ families started a national conversation in China. He organized the Beijing Queer Film Festival for more than a decade and founded the Queer University Video Training Camp in China. Currently, he lives in Berlin and is developing his feature debut. At Berlinale 2019, he was jury member of the Teddy Award.

Wolf Iro (b. 1970) studied Comparative Literature in Cambridge as well as Slavistics at Oxford and in Moscow. He wrote his doctorate about the Russo-Jewish writer Isaak Babel at the LMU Munich. He has been working at the Goethe Institute since 2004. He was the director of regional programme work in Moscow from 2009 to early 2014 and has been an Institute director in Israel ever since.

Vladimir Nadein (b. 1993) is a Moscow based producer, film curator and actor. He studied Filmmaking at the Higher Courses of Directors and Scriptwriters and Acting at the Moscow Art Theatre School. He is the co-founder and festival director of Moscow International Experimental Film Festival (MIEFF). In 2019 he produced »Arrival« that premiered at 65th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen.

FORUM: Cut it out! Of Vanguards and Censorship
Friday, 7th of June | 7 pm | Festival Center Post