The holdings of the REEEC Multimedia Resource Library are intended to assist university faculty and K-12 teachers who are interested in incorporating cinematic and other multimedia materials into their courses and studies. The Center’s policy is to provide access to its collection free of charge to the following: University of Illinois faculty, graduate students, registered student organizations; K-12 instructors and university/college faculty across the United States. In general, first priority is given to University of Illinois faculty teaching Russian, East European, and Eurasian area studies courses. The collection is for educational purposes only. The Center does not lend films to individuals for private viewing.The Center does not lend materials outside the U.S.
These films have been donated by Douglas Heintz, currently a Stewardship and Donor Relations Specialist in the College of Engineering. Douglas was a former REEEC MA student with a Russian major (2007) and a FLAS recipient (2007-2008).
Summary: “Papa” tells a story of a Jewish father who dreamed of seeing his son perform onstage in front of huge audiences; he dreamed of seeing him as the greatest violinist of his time. To achieve the goal, he taught his son Dodik how to play the violin from an early age. Read more…
Awards: Audience Award at the 2004 Moscow International Film Festival
Course relevance: nostalgia, pre-Soviet past, representations of the Russian army, post-Soviet national identity, branding, globalization, Russian cinema.
Summary: Jane Callahan, a beautiful American lady, writes to her son, a cadet at a famous military academy, about a long kept secret. Twenty years ago, she arrived in Russia to assist Douglas McCracken (Richard Harris), an obsessive engineer who needs the Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich’s patronage to sponsor his invention, a massive machine to harvest the forests. On her travels, she meets two men who would change her life forever: a handsome young cadet Andrei Tolstoy (Oleg Menshikov) with whom she shares a fondness for opera, and the powerful General Radlov who is entranced by her beauty and wants to marry her. Tolstoy and Radlov, much to the surprise and indignation of the latter, become rivals for Jane’s love. She confides a deep secret to Tolstoy, promises to marry him, and together they spend a passionate night of love. Read more…
Awards: Russian Guild of Film Critics – Best Supporting Actor.
Zaymemsya lyubovyu/Let’s make love. A film by Denis Evstigneev (2002, PAL, 86 min., col., Russian with English subtitles).
Course relevance: youth, western genre models in contemporary Russian cinema.
Summary: A contemporary teen movie best described as a Russian version of “American Pie.” Igor Tyulenev, nicknamed “Tyulen” (“seal” in Russian), is a naive young freshman in college desperate to lose his virginity. He relies on his friends, especially his Cassanova-like roommate, for help and advice in finding love. With a talented ensemble cast, the film provides a hip and comedic glimpse at life and love among young Russians today. The soundtrack is also entertaining with popular Russian bands, including Chicherina. Read more…
Awards: Nika Awards Nominations for Best Director, Best Film, Best Production Designer.
Summary: The film begins in the 1980s Soviet Union. Two best friends, Orlov and Muravyev, are serving at the Black Sea Navy Base in Sevastopol, Crimea. Both fall in love with one beautiful girl Nelly, and their friendship suffers a first blow. Because she picks Muravyev, his friend Orlov struggles with an inferiority complex and becomes a secretive alcoholic. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, both friends are transferred to the Northern Fleet on the Arctic Ocean. One day, their sub is performing a routine training. Read more…
Awards: Best film and Best Music at the Golden Eagle Awards, Aigle d’Or du Meilleur Film.
Statskiy sovetnik/State counsellor. A film by Filipp Yankovsky based on the sixth novel in the Erast Fandorin historical detective series by Boris Akunin (2005, PAL, 128 min., col., Russian). See trailer and official website.
Summary: A revolutionary organisation is planning to assassinate the Governor of Moscow as the first step to overthrowing the Tsarist state. Detective Erast Fandorin attempts to counter them, but his efforts are hindered by his dealings with Prince Pozharsky.
Awards: Nominations at the MTV Movie Awards, Russia.
Svolochi/Bastards. A film by Aleksandr Atanesyan based on Vladimir Kunin’s autobiographical novel entitled Mika and Alfred (2006, PAL, 110 min., col., with English subtitles). See trailer.
Summary: This war movie is based on an autobiographical story of teen criminals in the Soviet Union during World War II. As an alternative to prison the boys are trained in the mountains of Armenia for a mission in Nazi Germany to blow up an important installation.
Awards: MTV Movie Award.
Sobache Serdtse/Heart of a Dog. A film by Vladimir Bortko based on Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel Heart of a Dog (1988, PAL, 131 min., b/w, in Russian).
Course relevance: NEP-era Soviet Union, new Soviet man, literature, intellectuals, dissidence.
Summary: The film is set in Moscow not long after the October Revolution, where a complaining stray dog looks for food and shelter. A well-off, well-known surgeon Phillip Phillippovich Preobrazhensky happens to need a dog and lures the animal to his big home annex practice with a piece of sausage. The dog is named Sharik and well taken care of by the doctor’s maids, but still wonders why he’s there. He finds out too late he’s needed as a test animal: the doctor implants the pituitary gland and testicles of a recently deceased alcoholic and petty criminal Klim Chugunkin into Sharik. Sharik proceeds to become more and more human during the next days. After his transition to human is complete, it turns out that he inherited all the negative traits of the donor – bad manners, aggressiveness, use of profanity, heavy drinking – but still hates cats. Read more…
Awards: Prix Italia
Gromovi: the House of Hope. Russian TV series directed by Alexander Barabanov (2006, 504 min., col., Russian).
Summary: This is a family saga that takes place in the 1970s in the Soviet Union. A country family with four children, an expectant mother, and a patriarchal miner live through the turbulent times, which starts when the oldest daughter is raped at a graduation ball.
Interviews: Rossiiskaia Gazeta
Starye klyachi/Old Hags. A film by Eldar Ryazanov (2000, PAL, 127 min., col., Russian).
Summary: Four women, respected professionals before perestroika, now eke out a living on society’s fringe. When one is cheated out of her apartment by a “new Russian” crook, the ladies band together and go for blood.
Awards: Honfleur Festival of Russian Cinema.
Kovcheg/The Ark. A film by Iuri Kuzin based on Gennady Shpalikov’s story “The wharf” (2004, PAL, 84 min., col., Russian).
Summary: Young Katya lives in a small town where she dreams of finding her prince charming. She falls in love with a stern skipper and goes to Moscow to learn about his secret past. One night changes both their lives as they grow to understand each other.
Review articles: Studies in Russian & Soviet Cinema
Dead Man’s Bluff. A film by Aleksei Balabanov (2005, PAL, col., 105 min., Russian).
Summary: Aleksei Balabanov, who directed Brother and Brother 2, uses “uniformly ace” (Variety) cameo performances by Russia’s most prominent actors. The film suggests that in the mean free-market streets of Russia in the beginning of the 1990s, the only real liberty was the freedom to kill. Read more…
Awards: MTV Movie Awards