Post-Revolution Nonfiction Film: Building the Soviet and Cuban Nations

Post-Revolution Nonfiction Film: Building the Soviet and Cuban Nations

Post-Revolution Nonfiction Film: Building the Soviet and Cuban Nations

Post-Revolution Nonfiction Film: Building the Soviet and Cuban Nations

Synopsis

In the charged atmosphere of post-revolution, artistic and political forces often join in the effort to reimagine a new national space for a liberated people. Joshua Malitsky examines nonfiction film and nation building to better understand documentary film as a tool used by the state to create powerful historical and political narratives. Drawing on newsreels and documentaries produced in the aftermath of the Russian revolution of 1917 and the Cuban revolution of 1959, Malitsky demonstrates the ability of nonfiction film to help shape the new citizen and unify, edify, and modernize society as a whole. Post-Revolution Nonfiction Film not only presents a critical historical view of the politics, rhetoric, and aesthetics shaping post-revolution Soviet and Cuban culture but also provides a framework for understanding the larger political and cultural implications of documentary and nonfiction film.

Excerpt

The task of the total transformation of the world was not an end in
itself—the end was ideal humanity, freedom from economic material
necessity, and most important, freedom to create. Hence all avant
garde movements … however diverse their aesthetic sensibilities, were
ultimately concerned with the identical problem: the development and
implementation of a modern utopian science scheme that would affect
the leap from the present to the future, or, in the idiom of the day,
from the kingdom of necessity to the kingdom of freedom. But though
Marx posited the fusion of art and life in the German Ideology, neither
Marx and Engels nor the Bolsheviks articulated a coherent aesthetic
theory. As a result, providing blueprints of the ideal future, particularly
models of a new man, became the task of the artistic avant-garde.

irina gutkin, cultural origins of
the socialist realist aesthetic
(1999)

Whenever a new social group, especially a new class, first appeared
in history, it was seized for a time with a kind of fever to build.
People would joyously start to remake the face of the earth in the
image and likeness of their own conceptions of social justice, and
their literature acquired an earthy, insistently urgent, and efficacious
quality … a revolutionary form was invented that most hit the mark.

—NIKOLAI chuzhak, “PISATEL’SKAIA PAMIATKA” (1929)

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