From Russia…a Cine Fantom Selection

The independent Cine Fantom movement -after three decades- is alive and well in Moscow. Each Wednesday, throughout the year, Cine Fantom holds public screenings followed by discussions between film professionals and the audience.

Over the years, Cine Fantom has produced hundreds of projects, which have been screened in Russia and at festivals worldwide. My personal relationship with Cine Fantom dates to 1991, when I first met in Moscow the Aleinikov brothers and Boris Yukhananov on the occasion of presenting Vista, Videos by Canadian women. They made a deep impression on me and ever since, I have followed the activities of Russian experimental cinema. In 2006 at the 29th Moscow International Film festival we met again and as a result of this reunion, I am delighted to show a small selection of historical and contemporary Cine Fantom films.

The concept of independent or parallel cinema dates back to the late twenties of the last century and is connected to the French, German and Russian “avant garde”. In the USSR due to absolute state monopoly, independent production revived only in the eighties. In 1984, in Moscow and in Leningrad several artists (unknown to each other) began to screen their experimental films at home – for friends. Thus clandestine festivals were born. The filmmakers produced a body of hilarious, satirical, minimum budget works outside the state run studio system. The brothers Igor and Gleb Aleinikov belonged to this first generation of independents. In samizdat format, they self-published the Cine Fantom journal and founded Parallel Cinema. Eventually, the different streams from Moscow and St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) merged and in 1987 the first festival under the name of Cine Fantom was held, followed by several others.

This selection features mainly early black and white films by the Aleinikov brothers. In these films, ideological comments and critical notions are frequently masked by typical Russian black humor. “There is an element of social comment in our films, such as in Metastasis and there are films in which the ideas of Moscow conceptualism are to be found, such as Tractors – commented Gleb. Everything however is permeated with sharp irony, an irony reflected two decades later, this time in color and in subtler from, in March, a recent work by Olga Tchernysheva.

Over thirty years, Cinefantom brought together a wide range of concepts, diverse styles, wit and creativity from a contradictory Russian cultural period – it is hoped that the festival audience will enjoy the humor and intensity of spirit of these films, seldom presented in Canada.


21st Images Festival – Toronto