As part of "Revolution Every Day," the Film Studies Center and the Smart Museum of Art present screenings of three rare Dziga Vertov films from 35mm prints from the Austrian Film Museum.
Vertov developed numerous plans for a film showcasing the achievements of Soviet women in the mid-1930s, at a time that official Soviet policies concerning women were undergoing radical change. For instance, having been legalized to great fanfare in 1920, abortion was prohibited in 1935, and cultural representations began to reinforce conservative, even bourgeois notions of femininity. In this context, Lullaby, Vertov’s film about women, became a film largely about maternity, about the fertility of Soviet women and the great promise of Soviet children. The fact that this hymn to maternity coincided in time with the Great Terror unleashed by Joseph Stalin—who features prominently in archival footage—makes the film a poignant and troubling document of its dark moment.
(Dziga Vertov, USSR, 1937, 58 min., 35mm print courtesy of the Austrian Film Museum)
William Nickell is a cultural historian in the department of Slavic Languages and Literatures specializing in mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century Russia, with particular interest in the 1840s, turn-of-the century, and 1930s-40s. Before joining the University of Chicago he was the Gary Licker Research Chair at U.C. Santa Cruz. His research focuses on media studies and cultural production, with close attention to the effects of large-scale social, economic and technical change. He also publishes extensively on Tolstoy, including a forthcoming companion to War and Peace. His first book, The Death of Tolstoy: Russia on the Eve, Astapovo Station, 1910, received honorable mention for the MLA’s Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Studies in Slavic Languages and Literatures.
Co-presented by the Smart Museum of Art in conjunction with "Revolution Every Day," on exhibit Sept. 14, 2017 – Jan. 14, 2018.