Last year, when Russia’s Ministry of Culture removed Naum Kleiman as founding director of the Moscow Cinema Museum, the global outcry was swift and genuine. Under Kleiman’s legendary leadership, Moscow’s cinematheque was a vital, longtime center of cultural and intellectual life. But his internationalist vision, which projected cinema as a civic art form capable of “turning people into citizens,” had been adrift in Putin’s Russia. By 2005, the museum was operating in internal exile, its vast collection in storage. Tatiana Brandrup’s passionate documentary makes canny use of excerpts from the films of Sergei Eisenstein and others to trace Russian cinema’s historic opposition to tyranny. Meanwhile she reveals Kleiman, a foremost expert on Eisenstein, as a resolute man whose calm, measured tone amid the political machinations around him belies a fierce moral conviction—
echoed by his loyal staff and others—
that art must play a role in resisting the reactionary nationalism that has Russian society increasingly in its grip.
Co-presented by Berlin & Beyond
, Pacific Film Archive
, and San Francisco Film Society