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The Imperial TraceRecent Russian Cinema$
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Nancy Condee

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195366761

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195366761.001.0001

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Cine-Amnesia: How Russia Forgot to Go to the Movies

Cine-Amnesia: How Russia Forgot to Go to the Movies

(p.49) 2 Cine-Amnesia: How Russia Forgot to Go to the Movies
The Imperial Trace

Condee Nancy

Oxford University Press

In the wake of the Soviet Union’s disintegration, Russian cinema’s collapse was utterly distinct from its two previous, Soviet-era crises. Unlike the underproduction, or “cine-anemia,” of the Civil War and late Stalinism, the post-Soviet film industry suffered from a case of cine-amnesia: its audience forgot to go to the movies. Although in the three years (1989–91) bracketing state collapse, 1000 films were shot, Russian audiences ceased attending films; by 1995, their per capita attendance had fallen to one film per year. This chapter traces the cinema industry from roughly 1983 to 2008, with particular attention to the May 1986 Fifth Congress of the Filmmakers’ Union, the Conflicts Commission, the collapse of a highly centralized distribution system, and the florescence of video piracy, as well as so-called chernukha (black culture) and the foreign influx of B-movies. Entrepreneur Tagi-zade is discussed in the context of an attempted Goskino revanche, and Nikita Mikhalkov’s ambiguous call for “back to the empire” is examined as a key aspect of cinema’s imaginative and logistical re-invention.

Keywords:   Fifth Congress, chernukha, Conflicts Commission, Filmmakers’ Union, Elem Klimov, Soviet cinema, Russian film industry, video piracy, Goskino, Nikita Mikhalkov

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