Monday, May 9, 2011

Old Soviet Film Festival at Zhovten Cinema in Kiev

Many people in the former USSR have a soft spot for Soviet movies. You can find out why every Wednesday at 10 am at the "Zhovten" (October) movie theater in Kiev (Podil district), just a 5 minute walk from m. Kontraktova Ploscha.

A schedule of the movies can be found on the theater's website. The festival started last week with a showing of Белорусский вокзал and will continue till the end of August. Admission is free! Be prepared for an elderly audience, though, and there are no subtitles, so you'll need to know some Russian to enjoy the movies.

On the first day of the festival there were some addresses by the people who run the cinema and by a well-known singer and performer. All the old people were given flowers, and there was a small TV crew there that filmed parts of the pre-film presentation, focusing in on some of the whitest heads and most stooping backs. I was one of a small handful of young people.

Soviet cinema is a sentimental subject for these older people. It was a different era with different values and different social institutions. Many of them still feel lost in today's society. For these people, the Soviet times were a period with some sacrifices and difficulties, but all in all it was a kinder society with much more solidarity and security. Soviet-era films are like a glimpse into that bygone world. I usually find these movies refreshing and starkly different from modern, high-tech cinema. Белорусский вокзал (Belorussian Train Station), for instance, is a very minimalist, but moving film about the bonds of friendship and how they can be rekindled many years later.

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