In the charged atmosphere of post-revolution, artistic and political forces often join in the effort to reimagine a new national space for a liberated people. Joshua Malitsky examines nonfiction film and nation building to better understand documentary film as a tool used by the state to create powerful historical and political narratives. Drawing on newsreels and documentaries produced in the aftermath of the Russian revolution of 1917 and the Cuban revolution of 1959, Malitsky demonstrates the ability of nonfiction film to help shape the new citizen and unify, edify, and modernize society as a whole. Post-Revolution Nonfiction Film not only presents a critical historical view of the politics, rhetoric, and aesthetics shaping post-revolution Soviet and Cuban culture but also provides a framework for understanding the larger political and cultural implications of documentary and nonfiction film.
1. Introduction: Revolutionary Rupture and National Stability
2. Kino-Nedelia, Early Documentary, and the Performance of a New Collective, 1917-1921
3. A Cinema Looking For People: The Individual and the Collective in Immediate Post-Revolutionary Cuban Nonfiction Film
4. The Dialectics of Thought and Vision in the Films of Dziga Vertov, 1922-1927
5. (Non)Alignments and the New Revolutionary Man
6. Esfir Shub, Factography, and the New Documentary Historiography
7. The Object of Revolutionary History: Santiago Álvarez’ Commemorative Newsreels and Chronicle Documentaries, 1972-1974
A splendid and highly readable book which imbues a suggestive comparison of cinema in the early years of the Soviet and Cuban revolutions with fresh insights.
author of Cuban Cinema
Joshua Malitsky here mines a rich seam. By closely comparing Vertov and Alvarez he uncovers 'post-revolutionary nonfiction film' as a discernible entity with commonalities shared across time and cultures. The extensive—indeed vast—archive of newsreels from both filmmakers is well worth the thorough attention he gives it, suggesting a context for their better-known documentaries. And his situating of Esfir Shub's compilations as not so much an alternative to Vertov but rather a wholesale replacement approach to agitprop is also compelling. All in all, Malitsky offers a crucial corrective to much received thinking on 20th century radical film.
University of Lincoln, UK
[M]alitsky's book is an extremely valuable contribution to both film theory and film history and should become required reading for students of film with a focus on documentary.October 2014
A book that analyzes Soviet cinema side-by-side with Cuban film is welcome, even though the two countries are represented here in parallel. . . . Highly recommended.