University of Pittsburgh
April 17, 2002

The Spring 2002 U.S. Installment of the Fourth Annual Russian Film Symposium, "Imperial Fatigue," Cosponsored by Pitt and Carnegie Art Museum, To Be Held April 29-May 12

Contact:  412-624-4147

April 18, 2002

PITTSBURGH—"Imperial Fatigue," the Spring 2002 American installment of the Fourth Annual Russian Film Symposium cosponsored by the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Museum of Art (CMA), will be held April 29-May 12 in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh at both Pitt and CMA and feature recent major films, an art exhibition, and performance poetry.

Participating in this spring's Pittsburgh symposium will be Dmitrii Aleksandrovich Prigov, considered to be Russia's premier conceptualist poet, artist, and actor. Four films rarely seen in the United States will be presented with English subtitles and discussed in the context of current post-Soviet cinema.

Three additional installments of this year's Russian Film Symposium will follow the spring Pittsburgh session: "Central Asia and the Politics of Space," to be held May 20-24 at Moscow's Institute for Cinema Studies; "The Films of Aleksandr Ptushko," which will take place in the early Fall Term at Pitt and CMA; and "Central Asian Cinema: Reviewing the Past," to be held in the late Fall Term, again at Pitt and CMA. For more information, visit the symposium's Web site,

"In the years after the 1991 collapse of the U.S.S.R., the critical task facing Russia's leadership was not 'merely' the appropriation of an existing structure," says Nancy Condee, director of Pitt's Cultural Studies Program and associate professor of Russian literature in Pitt's Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. "Instead, for the first time in Russia's 1000-year history, its task was to forge a nation-state from Europe's last multinational empire, the third-largest empire in history. 'Imperial Fatigue' presents a selection of films that traces Russia's sloughing off of its imperial burden and reconstitution as a nation-state when the very function of the nation-state is called into question."

The symposium begins with the opening reception for an art exhibition by Prigov at the University Art Gallery in Pitt's Frick Fine Arts Building, from 5 to 7 p.m. April 29; the reception will include a brief group performance piece in English assembled from Prigov's works. The exhibition, "Phantom Installations," comprises mixed media drawings and will be on view noon-4 p.m. April 30-May 3 and noon-2 p.m. May 4. From 7 to 9 p.m. April 30, Prigov will give a performance, reading in Russian at the Quiet Storm Coffeehouse, 5430 Penn Ave., in East Liberty. These events are free and open to the public. For information on this segment of the symposium, call


There will be 7:30 p.m. daily film screenings May 1 through 4 in the CMA Theatre, 4400 Forbes Ave.

On May 1, Vladimir Khotinenko's "Muslim" (1995) will be introduced by Vladimir Padunov, associate professor of Russian literature in Pitt's Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. "Muslim" focuses on a Soviet soldier who returns home from Afghanistan as a convert to Islam. On May 2, a film that has achieved cult status, Aleksei German's "Khrustalev, My Car!" (1998), will be introduced by New York University film scholar Mikhail Iampol'skii; this film is described by the Village Voice's Jay Hoberman as "a meta-film about Soviet cinema, a nightmarish monument to the…dark ambiguities of carnival attractions." On May 3, Mark Lipovetskii of the University of Colorado will introduce Aleksandr Zel'dovich's postmodernist fantasy, "Moscow" (2000).

The series concludes with a May 4 screening of Pavel Lungin's "Taxi Blues" (1990), the story of a Moscow cabbie—described as a Russian version of the Archie Bunker character in "All in the Family"—and his ambivalent friendship with Liosha, a bohemian saxophonist. Prigov, who appears in pivotal scenes in "Khrustalev" and "Taxi Blues," will introduce "Taxi Blues." From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. that day, Condee will lead a roundtable of scholars and critics of contemporary cinema in the back room at Hemingway's Café, 3911 Forbes Ave., in Oakland.

The four films will be rescreened in the same order at 7:30 p.m. May 9 through 12 in the CMA Theatre. Admission to each film screening is $6 for the general public, $5 for students and senior citizens, and free for symposium participants. For more information, call 412/622-3212. The symposium is supported by the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art, and the Ford Foundation, with assistance from the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research.