"Screening Soviet Nationalities: Kulturfilms from the Far North to Central Asia" (I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd, 2017), by Blinken OSA Research Fellow and CEU alumna (HIST) explores how filmmakers sought to create a cinematic map of the new state by portraying its land and peoples on screen in the early decades of the Soviet Union.
These films – at the time referred to as kulturfilms – served as experimental grounds for developing the cinematic formulae of a multiethnic Soviet identity and developed multiple scenic, cultural and ethnographic modalities for showing the Soviet periphery. Screening Soviet Nationalities examines the non-fictional representations of Soviet borderlands from the Far North to the Northern Caucasus and Central Asia between 1925-1940. Beginning with Dziga Vertov and his vision of the Soviet space as a unified, multinational mosaic, Oksana Sarkisova rediscovers films by Vladimir Erofeev, Alexander Litvinov, Vladimir Shneiderov, Mikhail Slutskii, Amo Bek-Nazarov, Mikhail Kalatozov, Roman Karmen and other filmmakers who helped construct an image of Soviet ethnic diversity and left behind a lasting visual legacy.
The book contributes to our understanding of changing ethnographic conventions of representation, looks at representations of diversity despite the homogenizing ambitions of Soviet-driven modernity, and reexamines methods of blending reality and fiction as part of both ideological and educational agendas. Using a wealth of unexplored archival evidence, Sarkisova analyses constructions of exoticism, backwardness and a multinational Soviet space through these remarkable and underexplored historical travelogues.