University of Pittsburgh
April 19, 2005

Pitt and Pittsburgh Filmmakers to Host the Seventh Annual Russian Film Symposium May 2-7

Titled The Yellow House of Cinema, the symposium to feature the first American screening outside New York of 4, a film banned in Russia; leading Russian film intellectuals scheduled to attend
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Filmmakers will host the seventh annual Russian Film Symposium, titled The Yellow House of Cinema, from May 2 through 7 in Room 208B of Pitt's Cathedral of Learning, 4200 Fifth Ave., and at Pittsburgh Filmmakers' Melwood Screening Room, 477 Melwood Ave., Oakland.

The Pitt screening of 4—a 2004 film currently banned in Russia and being shown in the United States for the first time outside New York—will take place May 6; the work is by young filmmaker Il'ia Khrzhanovskii and will highlight a series of film screenings thoughout the event. The symposium—which also will include discussions, a research panel, and a closing roundtable—will draw major industry figures, scholars, and critics, including leading Russian film intellectuals Liubov' Arkus, editor in chief of the film journal Séance; Aleksandr Deriabin, considered to be the preeminent scholar on Soviet documentary cinema; and Evgenii Margolit, senior researcher at the Institute for Cinema Studies in Moscow.

The Yellow House is a Russian colloquialism meaning insane asylum. "As Russia searches to define itself both in terms of political nationality and personal identity, the theme of psychosis becomes increasingly prominent in Russian film," says Vladimir Padunov, Pitt associate professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures and associate director of Pitt's Film Studies Program. "The notion of the absurd, or insanity, appears not only as physical location but also as a limitation imposed by social conditions, political institutions, or, simply, state of mind, and the reemergence of Russia's film industry as a social and political force allows the industry to address these ideas with new freedom."

All films to be screened during the symposium have English subtitles, and the cost of admission to each screening is $5. The 7 p.m. screenings at Pittsburgh Filmmakers from May 4 to 7, respectively, are Pavel Chukhrai's historical drama A Driver for Vera (2004), on the personal and political travails of a 1960s Soviet general; Dmitrii Meskhiev's World War II drama Our Own (2004); Kira Muratova's absurdist love story The Tuner (2004), about Russian scam artists; and Valerii Todorovskii's political commentary My Stepbrother Frankenstein (2004), about societal attitudes toward traumatized veterans.

The 10 a.m. screenings at Pitt from May 2 to 6, respectively, are Iurii Grymov's fantastical The Mastermind (2001), about mankind's search for meaning in life; Andrei Nekrasov's Disbelief (2004), a controversial documentary about a 1999 Moscow apartment bombing; Anna Melikian's first feature film, Mars (2004), an absurdist comedy-melodrama; Aleksandr Veledinskii's Russian (2004), described as the Russian counterpart to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; and Vadim Abdrashitov's allegorical Magnetic Storms (2003), about a violent workers' collective.

The 2 p.m. screenings on May 2, 4, and 6, respectively, also at Pitt, are Andrei Konchalovskii's House of Fools (2002), on the ironies of war and the relative humanity of life in an insane asylum; Ol'ga Stolpovksia and Dmitrii Troitskii's romantic comedy, You I Love (2004); and Khrzhanovskii's as yet unreleased 4 (2004), about the consequences of an all-night storytelling session in a barroom.

The symposium is supported by the University of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Filmmakers. For more information and a complete schedule, visit the symposium's Web site at or contact Julie Draskoczy at 412-521-1327 or