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Post-Revolution Nonfiction Film

Building the Soviet and Cuban Nations

Joshua Malitsky

Publication Year: 2013

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.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: New Directions in National Cinemas

Cover, Title Page

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pp. 1-4


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pp. 5-7


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pp. vii-9

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pp. ix-xi

Financial support for this book came from a variety of sources. My travel, research, and writing was supported by fellowships and grants from the graduate school and Center for International and Comparative Studies (CICS) at Northwestern University as well as by a summer Mellon Fellowship from the Russian...

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Introduction: Revolutionary Rupture and National Stability

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pp. 1-33

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...

Part One

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pp. 35-86

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1. Kino-Nedelia, Early Documentary, and the Performance of a New Collective, 1917–1921

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pp. 37-57

The Red Star Literary-Instructional Agit-Steamer of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee was a propaganda ship that traveled down the Volga River in 1919. It was also the name (without question a most unwieldy one!) of a two-reel film that Dziga Vertov made in accordance with...

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2. A Cinema Looking for People: The Individual and the Collective in Immediate Post-Revolutionary Cuban Nonfiction Film

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pp. 58-86

Fidel Castro delivered his extended exegesis on the history and philosophy of imperialism in Latin America to the Cuban people on February 4, 1962. The speech followed Cuba’s expulsion from the Organization of American States. A Cuban newsreel issue, which I describe in detail below, “covered” the events of...

Part Two

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pp. 87-152

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3. The Dialectics of Thought and Vision in the Films of Dziga Vertov, 1922–1927

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pp. 89-116

The Young Pioneers was a Soviet version of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. In the spring and summer of 1924, Dziga Vertov chronicled the activities of one Pioneer unit in a six-reel film that was to serve as the first part in a six-part documentary series about post-revolutionary activity...

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4. (Non)Alignments and the New Revolutionary Man

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pp. 117-152

Che Guevara opens his famous essay “Socialism and Man in Cuba” by countering the characterization of socialism as “the abolition of the individual for the sake of the state.”1 Instead of the elimination of the individual, he argues that socialism seeks a new interrelation not only between the individual and the mass but between...

Part Three

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pp. 153-215

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5. Esfir Shub, Factography, and the New Documentary Historiography

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pp. 155-188

Title: buses assemble at the soviet. Tight shot of a truck bearing down on us. Trams hastily leave their station. Title: in place of public speakers. A low-angle image of a loudspeaker. Title: in place of applause. Increasingly rapid close-ups of a hand squeezing a horn, a finger pushing a horn button, a pulsing cone-shaped amplifier, and the...

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6. The Object of Revolutionary History: Santiago Álvarez's Commemorative Newsreels and Chronicle Documentaries, 1972–1974

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pp. 189-215

There is a title sequence, then eleven images of the wedding of Luci Baines Johnson. The images are animated by panning, tilting, and zooming in and out on the bride and groom. President Johnson himself appears as the camera slowly zooms in on a red colorized image of him and his son-in-law. Three explicit images from...


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pp. 217-237


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pp. 239-258


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pp. 259-265


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pp. 267-274

E-ISBN-13: 9780253007704
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253007643

Page Count: 290
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: New Directions in National Cinemas