Ukrainian Cinema: Belonging and Identity during the Soviet Thaw is the first concentrated study of Ukrainian cinema in English. In particular, historian Joshua First explores the politics and aesthetics of Ukrainian Poetic Cinema during the Soviet 1960s-70s. He argues that film-makers working at the Alexander Dovzhenko Feature Film Studio in Kyiv were obsessed with questions of identity and demanded that the Soviet film industry and audiences alike recognize Ukrainian cultural difference. The first two chapters provide background on how Soviet cinema since Stalin cultivated an exoticised and domesticated image of Ukrainians, along with how the film studio in Kyiv attempted to rebuild its reputation during the early sixties as a center of the cultural Thaw in the USSR. The next two chapters examine Sergei Paradjanov's highly influential Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1965) and its role in reorienting Dovzhenko Studio toward the auteurist (some would say elitist) agenda of Poetic Cinema. In the final three chapters, Ukrainian Cinema looks at the major works of film-makers Iurii Illienko, Leonid Osyka, and Leonid Bykov, among others, who attempted (and were compelled) to bridge the growing gap between a cinema of auteurs and concerns to generate profits for the Soviet film industry.
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Joshua First is the Croft Assistant Professor of History and International Studies at the University of Mississippi, USA. He has published on a variety of topics related to Soviet cinema after Stalin, ranging from film audience research to melodrama to his present interest in Ukrainian cinema. He teaches courses on Modern Russian and Soviet history, and on contemporary Russian politics and culture.
'Joshua First's timely, well-researched study traces the history of Ukrainian cinema [...] and how film-makers mapped out Ukrainian space and Ukrainian identity [...] It is [...] an important book for understanding developments within the post-Stalinist USSR and the historical evolution of Ukrainian nationhood.' Stephen M. Norris, Professor of History and Assistant Director of the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies, Miami University, Ohio. 'This meticulously researched book takes the reader on a tour of Ukrainian cinema, from the mythical landscapes of the Carpathian highlands [...] to the smoke filled halls of the studio [...] A must read for anyone interested in Soviet film.' Dr. Serhy Yekelchyk, Associate Professor, Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies, University of Victoria, Canada.
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