This Study Group was established in 1998, and originally co-ordinated by Birgit Beumers, then at the University of Bristol. The group aims to invite to its events (bi-annual symposia and conferences) scholars from outside Russian departments, such as architecture, arts, music, cinema, theatre studies, media, who have an interest in Russia. The Group is currently convened by Jeremy Hicks (Queen Mary College, University of London), and it regularly organizes panels at the annual BASEES conference. Please contact Jeremy Hicks for more information.

Past events

The Group held its first conference in Bristol at the Watershed Media Centre on 1 May 1999. The conference Building Sites: The Construction and Demolition of Other Worlds in Soviet and Russian Culture of the 1930s and 1990s brought together scholars from Russian Studies and related areas (film studies, art history, architecture, design) and focused on the way in which arts and culture especially of the 1930s and the 1990s were concerned with the construction of new worlds and the creation of different realities. Speakers included: Brandon Taylor, Mike O'Mahony, Catherine Cooke, Emma Widdis, Graham Roberts (Leeds), Richard Taylor, Nikolai Izvolov (Moscow), Viacheslav Shmyrov (Moscow), and others.

A symposium on Russian shorts (short debut films, animation and ads) was held at the Watershed Media Centre on 28 October 2000.

A conference on Russian Music for Film and Theatre took place from 1-2 December 2001 at the Watershed Media Centre. It coincided with a programme of three new Russian films, one of which, Tender Age, was introduced by the director, Sergei Soloviev. The film composer Alexander Pantykin (Ekaterinburg) gave a workshop on the implications of composing for film during his visit, which was sponsored by the Ministry of Culture (Russia). Other participants included Neil Edmunds, Arnold McMillin, Richard Taylor, Alexander Ivashkin.

A conference on Stalin’s Cultural Legacy was organised by Mike O'Mahony and held at the University of Bristol from 15 -16 March 2003. This conference explored the notion of Stalin’s legacy both during and after his lifetime within the broad cultural arena. Speakers included : Marie-Christine Autant-Mathieu (CNRS, Paris), Peter Barta (University of Surrey), Djurdja Bartlett (London College of Fashion), John Bates (University of Glasgow), Fiona Bjvrling (Lund University), Vitaly Chernetsky (Columbia University, New York), Neil Edmunds (University of the West of England), Reuben Fowkes (University of Essex), Jukka Gronow University of Helsinki), Dina Iordanova (University of Leicester), Polly Jones (St. Antony's College, Oxford), Tony Kemp-Welch (University of East Anglia), Rosalind Marsh (University of Bath), David MacFadyen (UCLA), Maureen Perrie (University of Birmingham), Susan Reid (University of Sheffield), Albert Resis (Northern Illinois University), John Riley (British Universities Film and Video Council), Dawn Seckler (Univeristy of Pittsburgh), Helen Tilly (University of Bristol), and Sarah Young (University of Nottingham). 

A conference on The Mass Media in Post-Soviet Russia was held jointly with the School of Arts at the University of Surrey from 6-8 April 2006 at the University of Surrey in Guildford. This conference was partly funded by the AHRB grant awarded to Professor Stephen Hutchings for a three-year project focussing on post-Soviet television culture. Conference Organisers: Stephen Hutchings, Natalia Rulyova, and Birgit Beumers. 

A Day of Russian Animation was held on 19 November 2008 at the Watershed Media Centre Bristol in conjunction with the Encounters Festival. It included a presentation of new Russian cartoons and restored puppet animation of the 1900s, as well as a lecture by the Russian film critic Larisa Maliukova. The new films screened included: Rain Down from Above by Ivan Maximov; Arctic Hole by Alexei Alexeev; Little Vasilisa by Darina Schmidt; He and She by Maria Muat; Two Italians by Sviatoslav Ushakov; Man with Wind in his Head by Hehoos; The Servant –Hare by Elena Chernova; KuiGorozh by Sergei Merinov; an Lullabies of the World by Liza Skvortsova. The restored puppet films were presented by Peter Lord: first they were contextualised in Viktor Bocharov's documentary “A Belated Premiere”, which was followed by original footage of stop-frame animation, paper animation and trick films an a Q&A with Viktor Bocharov and Peter Lord.

The invention of 3D and colour animation in Soviet Russia.A special 2-day programme at Encounters 2012 to mark the centenary of Russian animation was held on 19-20 September 2012. Soviet innovation in film technology is an often neglected theme in film histories, which tend to focus on American inventions. However, in the 1930s Soviet engineers and cinematographers developed a system for making colour films that produced amazing results – and was applied to animation. Yet these beautiful cartoons were only screened at the time of their creation: with changes in projection equipment they disappeared from the screens and were soon relegated to the shelves of the archives. From there, they have been resurrected and digitised in an amazing effort by “pioneers” of restoration at the Russian State Film Archive Gosfilmofond – to have their international premiere in Bristol. At around the same time, the first experiments in stereoscopic cinema allowed the making of a film in 3D – with three reels made in colour as well –, which was released in 1941 and is shown here in a restored, digital version. With limited access to American inventions during the Cold War, Soviet inventors continued their search for a method of making stereoscopic films to high quality. The Scientific Institute for Photography and Film (NIKFI) invented the Stereo-70 system, which was used to make several animated films – including puppet animation – in the 1970s. For this invention NIKFI received the Academy Award for Technical Achievements in 1991. And once again, nobody could watch those films after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its cinematic infrastructure in 1991, because the special projectors and screens needed for the system disappeared when the old movie theatres were refurbished and turned into multiplexes.

  • Programme 1 – 3D and animation. Introduction by Sergei Rozhkov and Alexander Melkumov (NIKFI). This programme shows some early 3D films, starting with a colour fragment from the first stereoscopic film. This is followed by three animated films made in Stereo-70 in the 1970s, which have been specially digitised.
  • Programme 2 – three-colour animation. Introduction by Oleg Bochkov, Vladimir Kotovsky (GFF) and Nikolai Mayorov. This programme presents five animated films created during the 1930s in a three-colour technique developed by Pavel Mershin. They have been digitised at Gosfilmofond of Russia to mark the centenary of Russian animation in 2012 and are shown here for the first time outside of Russia.
  • Workshop on film restoration. This workshop brings together some experts on film restoration who will discuss their experiences: David Cleveland will talk on the Kinemacolor system; Oleg Bochkov will present the preservation work at Gosfilmofond; Nikolai Mayorov and Vladimir Kotovsky will talk on problems of restoring three-colour films; and Sergei Rozhkov will explain the Stereo-70 system, then and now.
  • Roundtable on 3D in animation today. Participants – including David Sproxton, Aardman Animation; Frank Passingham, cinematographer on Pirates; Edith Sepp, Ministry of Culture of Estonia; Arvo Nuut, cinematographer at Nukufilm; and Alexander Melkumov, NIKFI Moscow – will discuss the impact of 3D on puppet animation and technologies used.
  • This event was curated by Birgit Beumers and funded by the University of Bristol’s Research and Enterprise Development Office with support from the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES).