Session 4: Rediscovering Esfir Shub: the Compilation Film and the Art of the Editing Table


Screenings and Discussion
Wednesday 25 March, 6.30, Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, WC1 [Map]
Free event

Birkbeck Cinema, Gordon Square, 11.30am-5.30pm

“Rediscovering Esfir Shub: the Compilation Film and the Art of the Editing Table”

This event combining screenings and discussion will explore the work of Esfir Shub (1894-1959), often considered the inventor of the compilation film, and undoubtedly a major figure in the history of documentary filmmaking. Although her name is always cited in histories of Soviet film and documentary cinema, Shub’s films are rarely if ever seen, with the exception of The Fall of the Romanoff Dynasty (1927). This study day will therefore feature screenings of rare films (notably Today and Komsomol: Patron of Electrification), as well as a re-evaluation of Shub’s role as an artist and as a pioneer of the recycling of archive footage in the essay film tradition.

Film screenings:

Today, Esfir Shub, 1930, Russia, 70 minutes, 35mm print


Komsomol: Patron of Electrification, Esfir Shub, 1932, Russia, 55 minutes, digital transfer from 35mm print


Michael Chanan (University of Roehampton, writer and filmmaker, notably The American Who Electrified Russia, 2009)

Bernard Eisenschitz (film historian, Paris, author of Nicholas Ray: An American Journey, Faber & Faber, 1993, and Gels et dégels: une autre histoire du cinéma soviétique 1926-1968, Mazzotta, 2013)

Esther Leslie (Birkbeck, author of Hollywood Flatlands: Animation, Critical Theory and the Avant-Garde, Verso, 2004, and Walter Benjamin, reaction, 2007)

Graham Roberts (University of Leeds Trinity, author of Forward Soviet: History and Non-Fiction Film in the Soviet Union, I.B. Tauris, 1998, and Man with the Movie Camera, I.B. Tauris, 1999)

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