Things Fall Apart

Decolonising the (Post-)Soviet Screen

Author
Heleen Gerritsen
Abstract
Taking as a starting point for reflection the late-Soviet Ukrainian feature film Rozpad (1990), which depicts the aftermath of perhaps the most significant environmental catastrophe of the 20th century and thus anticipates the protracted unravelling of the (post-)Soviet empire, this editorial introduction explores the themes of cultural and geopolitical disintegration. Heleen Gerritsen underscores the pressing necessity to reevaluate the cinematic legacy of the Soviet and post-Soviet eras within the context of global decolonisation processes. More urgent than ever, especially in light of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, is the imperative to explore alternative forms of knowledge about regions that have endured historical subjugation. This necessitates a redirection of researchers’ and film festival programmers’ focus, a nuanced revision of (film) history, and the adoption of a new language in film studies and in the humanities in general. This editorial describes how, in the context of the symposium "Decolonizing the (Post)Soviet Screen" at the Central and Eastern European film festival goEast 2023, the idea for a publication project in collaboration with Apparatus was born. It provides a brief overview of the included articles and texts and gives a glimpse into the subsequent issue. The editorial is accompanied by previously unpublished archival photographs from the private collection of the cinematographer of the film Rozpad, Vasyl’ Trushkovs’kyi, which he took as preparation for the shootings in 1988-1989.
Keywords
Mikhailo Belikov, Vasyl’ Trushkovs’kyi, Ukraine, Central Asia, CIS, post-Soviet space, Chornobyl’, COVID, goEast Film Festival, decolonisation activism, war, boycott, disintegration, film market, film distribution.

Editorial

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Editorial

Rozpad / Decay (Mikhailo Belikov, 1990, Soviet Union, United States) was the title of one of several Perestroika-era films goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film screened in 2020, during a small window in summer when COVID-19 measures were temporarily lifted, and the German authorities allowed us to present the entire film programme accompanying the symposium “Film Heritage in Transition. Central and Eastern Europe 1985-1999” at Frankfurt am Main’s Film Museum.1 The programme, curated by Prof. Schamma Shahadat and Dr. Margarete Wach, focused on the period of transition in Central and Eastern Europe during which film production, cultural politics, archives, and infrastructure, as well as individuals and societies at large, went through tremendous economic, political, cultural, and technological shifts.