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Eastern Europe History & Politics

17 August

Focuses on documenting one day in the life of Boris Bezotechestvo, a murderer serving his entire sentence in solitary confinement in a prison situated on a small Island on Lake Novozero in central Russia. The filmmaker explores what happens when nothing happens. The theme of crime and punishment is present in every moment. When there is no death sentence, there is only time. Time can be spent conversing with God - or maybe with the Devil. Boris asks himself whether he should try to go insane. Written and directed by Alexander Gutman.

A Bibo Reader.

A film by Péter Forgács. Presents a found footage essay featuring home movies and photographs of the philosopher Istvan Bibo, who served time in prison for supplying Jews with fake documents during the Holocaust and was one of the leaders of the 1956 Hungarian revolution. The sensitive rendering of Bibo's social and historical analysis, the meditative texts and images pace the piece from one contemplative state to the next. 2001.

A Trial in Prague.

Documentary profiles the 1952 trial of fourteen Czechoslovak communists, including Rudolf Slansky, former General Secretary of the Party, tried on charges of high treason and espionage. Eleven of the fourteen accused were Jews. Presents interviews with many who were caught up in the events. Written and directed by Zuzana Justman. Dist. Cinema Guild. 1999. 83 min.

Age of Hope, 1900 (People's Century).

The dawn of the twentieth century was forged in hope and optimism. Here interviewees from Europe, Asia and the United States (boasting an average age of 102), recount the part they played in the century's early history. Whether fighting on the barricades of the failed Russian Revolution of 1905 or campaigning for votes for women; recalling the Paris Exposition of 1900, or President McKinley's assassination or witnessing the sinking of the Titanic, all remember the changes they lived through and the clash of forces and ideas before World War I. 1998. 56 min.

American Gypsy: A Stranger in Everybody's Land

America is home to one million Gypsies, or Rom, whose rich culture has long been mysterious to outsiders. A flamboyant Romani leader -- defying widely held stereotypes and his own people's code of secrecy -- invites the viewer into this world when it comes under treat. He leads us through the history of his people through civil rights courts, Las Vegas casinos and beyond. Written, produced and directed by Jasmine Dellal. 1999. 80 min. ;

And the Past Seems But a Dream

In 1938 a group of children wrote an idealistic book called 'We are from Igarka.' The director planned to film their touching reunion 50 years later. But another childhood was revealed: "... a time that was much more painful than the worst nightmare." 67 min.--Theater Square: On June 1, 1988, a hunger strike was organized in Yerevan's historic Theater Square over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, populated mainly by Armenians, but located in Azerbaijan. The film portrays this event without commentary or interviews. 26 min. 1988.

Animated Soviet Propaganda: American Imperialists.

Racism, unemployment, aggression, excess -- the USSR's animation studios frequently took aim at these aspects of American culture. Representing five decades of animated Soviet propaganda, this program features short films that blast the U.S. and its perceived evils. Black and White and Mister Twister extol the absence of bigotry in Soviet society while Someone Else's Voice portrays jazz as "an enemy of the people." Ave Maria condemns America's presence in Vietnam and the influence of the Catholic Church, and The Shooting Gallery underscores the violence behind economic and class divisions.

Animated Soviet Propaganda: Capitalist Sharks.

Just as America envisioned Communist threats during much of the 20th century, the specter of capitalism loomed large in the Soviet Cold War psyche. This program surveys Soviet animated propaganda, embodying that fiercely anti-capitalist spirit. Foreshadowing the space race, Interplanetary Revolution depicts a Communist triumph over free-market forces on Mars; China in Flames warns against capitalist interference in the Chinese Revolution; Shareholder proclaims the superiority of the Soviet economic system; and Proud Little Ship takes on capitalist aggression. 98 min.

Animated Soviet Propaganda: Fascist Barbarians.

Hitler's invasion of Russia and Germany's post-WWII partition inspired a great deal of animated Soviet Propaganda. This program presents short films that disparage fascist aggression and America's supposed continuation of it. Fascist Boots on our Homeland and Cinema Circus vilify Hitler and the Nazi invaders; A Lesson Not Learned plays on Russian fears of a reunited, vengeful, and American-supported Germany; and Vasilyok, The Adventures of the Red Ties and The Violin of the Pioneer Pen are stories about brave and loyal Soviet children encountering and standing up to fascism. 116 min.

Animated Soviet Propaganda: Onward to the Shining Future.

Soviet film studios worked hard to portray their government's system as idyllic and forward-looking. This program showcases animated films designed to promote that utopian vision.