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Russian and Soviet cinema

In the 1920s and 30s the first Russian cinema adverts and advertising publications appeared. In recent years the Library has acquired a collection of advertising leaflets and material relating to the history and criticism of Soviet and world cinema published by Tea-Kino-Pechat in the 1920s

Soviet and world cinema, 1920-1930

The publisher that specialised in the publication of advertising leaflets for the cinema was Tea-Kino-Pechat' (Kino-Pechat').

Cover of the book 'Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks in the USSR', published in Moscow, 1926

Meri Pikford i Duglas Ferbenks v SSSR (Moskva: Kinopechat', 1926) [YA.1993.a.17802] © The British Library Board

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Although the advertising leaflets of these publishers were issued in quite large tirages for mass circulation they were often thrown away after being read and not many have been preserved. They are therefore considered to be quite rare and very few libraries even in Russia have a similar collection. In content they often have serious and interesting texts and can be compared to theatrical programmes and catalogues.

Mozzhukhin' by A. Garri, published in Moscow, 1927

Mozzhukhin / A. Garri. (Moscow: Kinopechat', 1927) [YA.1993.a.17788] © The British Library Board

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This collection can be divided up into six sections:

1. Advertising leaflets for the young Soviet cinema. Designed to persuade audiences to see the film and distributors to hire it. They consist of concise and concentrated texts with biographical information about now forgotten actors of the first generation of Soviet cinema and are illustrated with stills from films. Most important: Bukhta smerti (Room), Baby riazanskie (Preobrazhenskaia), Dekabristy (Ivanovskii), Dom na Trubnoi (Barnet), Bluzhdaiushchie zvezdy (Barnet), Otets Sergai (Protazanov), Iad and Amok.

2. Advertising leaflets for Soviet documentary films and propagandistic cinema on public health etc.

3. Advertising leaflets containing information on the life and works of leading cinema actors of the Soviet cinema, including criticism, auto-biographies and biographies, bibliographies and indexes. Most important: Mozzhukhin, Nata Vachnadze, Moskvin, Ol'ga Tret'iakova.

4. Advertising leaflets on the life and works of leading actors of world cinema together with a representative selection of Russian criticism of world cinema. Worth noting is a leaflet written by Vladimir Nedobrovo, an important critic who wrote an essential text on the Factory of the Eccentric Actor group.

5. Advertising leaflets on films from world cinematography. Notable examples: Myl'naia pena (starring Mary Pickford) and Chelovek i livreia (Der letzte Mann) starring Emil Jannings.

6. Journalism and Russian criticism of Soviet cinema mostly from 1926 to 1930. Unique texts on the theme of techniques of cinema including items by famous critics such as V. Shklovskii.

Cover of the book 'Dom na Trubnoi'

Dom na Trubnoi [Moscow]: Teakinopechat, [1926?] [YA.1993.a.17807] © The British Library Board

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Secondary sources in Russian on Russian and Soviet cinema published 1910-1975

The British Library also holds a number of secondary sources in Russian relating to Russian, Soviet and world cinema during this period. One particularly important item, published in 1919, is Kinematograf: sbornik statei, [YA.1997.b.3991], with an introduction by Lunarcharskii. It is a blueprint for the state-run Soviet cinema and may be the only copy in a library outside the Former Soviet Union.

Electronic resources

Early Russian cinema – a unique collection of Russian film periodicals published during the last decade of the Tsarist regime – is now available online from the British Library reading rooms: Electronic resources by subject - Slavonic and East European. The collection includes sophisticated, bimonthly periodicals as well as more popular weeklies released by major Russian film studios. Containing, amongst others, interviews with movie stars and screenplays that are now irretrievably lost, these journals are an invaluable source of information for researchers interested in the silent movie era and Russia's entertainment industry at the eve of the Revolution. The database was published by IDC as part of the series Mass Culture and Entertainment in Russia. Some material on the Russian cinema is also available from the Screen and Stage database, part of the same series and accessible in our Reading Rooms. The collection consists of various types of material ranging from sophisticated journals to cheaply produced magazines published in the last three decades of the Tsarist regime.

Contact

Peter W. Hellyer, Curator, Russian Studies
European Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London
NW1 2DB
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7582

E-mail: peter.hellyer@bl.uk

Katya Rogatchevskaia, Lead Curator, Russian Studies
European Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London
NW1 2DB
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7587

E-mail: katya.rogatchevskaia@bl.uk