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Unformatted text preview: Across One Sixth of the World: Dziga Vertov, Travel Cinema, and Soviet Patriotism* OKSANA SARKISOVA OCTOBER 121, Summer 2007, pp. 19–40. © 2007 October Magazine, Ltd. and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The films of Dziga Vertov display a persistent fascination with travel. Movement across vast spaces is perhaps the most recurrent motif in his oeuvre, and the cine-race [ kino-probeg ]—a genre developed by Vertov’s group of filmmak- ers, the Kinoks 1 —stands as an encompassing metaphor for Vertov’s own work. His cinematographic journeys transported viewers to the most remote as well as to the most advanced sites of the Soviet universe, creating a heterogeneous cine-world stretching from the desert to the icy tundra and featuring customs, costumes, and cultural practices unfamiliar to most of his audience. Vertov’s personal travelogue began when he moved from his native Bialystok 2 in the ex–Pale of Settlement to Petrograd and later to Moscow, from where, hav- ing embarked on a career in filmmaking, he proceeded to the numerous sites of the Civil War. Recalling his first steps in cinema, Vertov described a complex itin- erary that included Rostov, Chuguev, the Lugansk suburbs, and even the Astrakhan steppes. 3 In the early 1920s, when the film distribution network was severely restricted by the Civil War and uneven nationalization, traveling and film- making were inseparable. Along with other filmmakers, he used an improvised * This article is part of my broader research “Envisioned Communities: Representations of Nationalities in Non-Fiction Cinema in Soviet Russia, 1923–1935” (Ph.D. Dissertation, Central European University, 2004). I would like to warmly thank my teachers and friends for sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm throughout this long journey. With special gratitude to the late Neia Zorkaia, Alexander Deriabin, Anna Geréb, Péter Kenéz, Naum Kleiman, Evgenii Margolit, and Balázs Trencsényi. I would also like to thank Yuri Tsivian for inviting me to take part in such exciting research on the polemics of Dziga Vertov’s early works. I thank Christopher Ryan, Malcolm Turvey, and Rachel Churner for their help with editing the text. 1. The Kinoks group was created by Dziga Vertov and included Mikhail Kaufman, Elizaveta Svilova, Ilia Kopalin, Ivan Beliakov, Alexander Lemberg, and others. Dziga Vertov, “Kinoki. Perevorot,” Lef , no. 3 (1923), pp. 135–43. 2. In Belarusian: Belastok; in Russian: Belostok. Located in northeastern Poland near the border with Belarus. After the third partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795 it belonged to the Prussian Kingdom, then after the Peace of Tilsit signed in 1807 it passed to Russia. In the years 1920–39 the city was again part of independent Poland. In September 1939 it was annexed by the Soviet Union as a consequence of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and since 1945 it has been a part of Poland....
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This note was uploaded on 09/14/2009 for the course HIST 362G taught by Professor Neuburger during the Summer '09 term at University of Texas.
- Summer '09