Virtual Friday Night Films at the Wende

In the spirit of our popular Friday Night Films at the Wende program series, we have curated a list of weekly Virtual Friday Night Films at the Wende films that can be watched at home, in conjunction with #WendeOnline. To participate in the series, follow us on social media (FacebookTwitter, and Instagram) or bookmark this page. 


Weekly Screening Selections

Friday, August 7, 2020

Krtek, “The Mole and the City,” created by Zdeněk Miler, 1982, Czechoslovakia, 28 minutes

Krtekthe Czech cartoon about a curious and warmhearted molegained enormous popularity in Eastern Europe, where the character is still an enduring cultural figure. With the show’s lack of dialogue, it crossed borders to Western Europe and various countries across the world. This 1982 episode is an allegory of environmental catastrophe in which bulldozers raze the little mole’s forest home, and he and his friends must find their way through the city. 

This week's selection is presented in conjunction with the Cold War Spaces program Spaces of Television: Between Propaganda and Consumerism.

Watch for free on Youtube.

Friday, July 31, 2020

War of the Worlds, dir. Byron Haskin, 1953, United States, 85 min

War of the Worlds is a classic alien invasion film teeming with Cold War paranoia and anxiety that brings the chaos of H.G. Wells’s novel to 1950s California. The space-age streamlined UFOs and spectacular images of destruction, along with Hungarian-born producer George Pal’s pioneering special effects, won the film an Oscar for Best Visual Effects in 1954.

As the aliens move towards Los Angeles, the inhabitants evacuate and the city descends into ruins. Urban cultural historian Eric Avila, this week’s Cold War Spaces guest, links the film to not only Red Scare fears but white flight. In his book Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles (2004), he writes that the film reveals “a perception that Los Angeles was under attack by alien invaders and that suburban domesticity offered a safe alternative to the chaos that had descended upon the postwar American metropolis. In the changing racial geography of the postwar, postindustrial city, the urban science fiction film provided a cultural arena where suburban America could measure its whiteness against the image of the alien Other.”   

Watch for free (with ads) on Crackle. Also available for purchase on other streaming services.  

Friday, July 24, 2020

Disgraced Monuments, dir. Laura Mulvey and Mark Lewis, United Sates, 1991-93

Disgraced Monuments was filmed in Moscow and Saint Petersburg (then Leningrad) in 1991 and 1992 and edited in the Wexner Center’s Film/Video Studio in the fall of 1993. In the nearly 100 years of Russian and Soviet history that filmmakers Laura Mulvey and Mark Lewis cover in the video, successive waves of iconoclasm have left a trove of relics—dismantled and often partially destroyed monuments—that memorialize the nation’s various political regimes. Now mostly hidden away in museums, warehouses, and studios, these objects occupy a curious, almost undefinable place in post-Soviet Russian culture. Are they painful reminders of oppression? Or an important part of cultural heritage? Can they be both?

This week's selection is presented in conjunction with the Cold War Spaces program Contested Space: Communist and Confederate Monuments

Disgraced Monuments is streaming for free online through August 14, 2020, courtesy of the Wexner Center for the Arts, click here to watch. The text excerpt was written by Jennifer Lange, Curator, Film/Video Studio Program at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Ida, dir. Pawel Pawlikowski, Poland, 2014

From the director of the 2018 film Cold War, Ida is a moving and intimate drama about a young novitiate nun in 1960's Poland who, on the verge of taking her vows, makes a shocking discovery about her past.

18-year old Anna, a sheltered orphan raised in a convent, is preparing to become a nun when the Mother Superior insists she first visit her sole living relative. Naive, innocent Anna soon finds herself in the presence of her aunt Wanda, a worldly and cynical Communist Party insider, who shocks her with the declaration that her real name is Ida and her Jewish parents were murdered during the Nazi occupation. This revelation triggers a heart-wrenching journey into the countryside, to the family house, and into the secrets of the repressed past, evoking the haunting legacy of the Holocaust and the realities of postwar Communism. The winner of Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards in 2015 as well as a BAFTA award for Best Film Not in the English Language; Nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Golden Globes, and the Cesar Awards.

Watch on Kanopy, free with a library card. Get immediate access to a LAPL e-card or LA County Library Digital Card Also available to watch with a subscription or rent on other streaming services.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Mystery of the Third Planet, dir. Roman Kachanov, Soviet Union, 1981

During summer vacation in July 2181, Alice and her professor father set out on an intergalactic journey to find rare species of animals for the Moscow Zoo. This kid-friendly animated pick was produced by Soyuzmultfim studio and was directed by Roman Kachanov, best known for directing the Cheburashka series of stop motion cartoons. This week’s selection connects with the Song-A-Day: Soviet Electronic Music playlist, which includes a song from the soundtrack.

The soundtrack was composed by Alexander Zatsepin, born in Siberia in 1924. The music needed to be otherworldly, of course, and Zatsepin had dabbled with radio technology and electronic sound since his youth. By his own admission, living in Novosibirsk meant that contemporary musical instruments were impossible to attain. Everything was DIY. Even when he got his hands on a Minimoog, he used it as inspiration to build his own version of a mellotron. The resulting combination of traditional stringed instruments and electronic experimentation in this feature reflects two sides of Russian music in the late 1970s and early 1980s: public prestige and private tinkering. Grand limitations and tiny freedoms, a duality that suits the film’s overall plot. Although the travelers are on an official mission to space, the journey’s true significance is revealed in all the private, magical discoveries en route.

Watch the film here with English subtitles. The dubbed and re-edited official 1995 US release (does not include the original soundtrack) can be found here.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Medea, dir. Ben Caldwell, 1973, United States, 6:49 min.

Ben Caldwell’s Medea, a collage piece made on an animation stand and edited entirely in the camera, combines live-action and rapidly edited still images of Africans and African Americans which function like flashes of history that the unborn child will inherit. Caldwell invokes Amiri Baraka’s poem “Part of the Doctrine” in this experimental meditation on art history, Black imagery, identity, and heritage.

The experimental short film is an early student work by Ben Caldwell, who will be discussed during the Cold War Spaces program on Community Space: Multimedia Art and African American Community Formation in LA. The young L.A. Rebellion filmmaker titled his film Medea, after the tragic mythological figure that also inspired the contemporaneous work of the Eastern European women artists featured in our past exhibition The Medea Insurrection.

Watch the film for free on Youtube, courtesy of the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

Friday, June 26, 2020

 

Un Traductor, dir. Rodrigo Barriuso and Sebastián Barriuso, 2018, Canada/Cuba, 107 min. 

 

In the wake of the 1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, Malin (Rodrigo Santoro), a professor of Russian literature at the University of Havana, is assigned to act as a translator on behalf of Ukrainian children sent to Cuba for medical treatment. Though initially frustrated and depressed by his new role, he starts to connect with the young patients — at the expense of his own suffering family.

Tied to the broader story of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the resulting economic crisis in Cuba, Rodrigo and Sebastián Barriuso’s directorial debut follows a man torn between his sense of duty amid a global upheaval and his commitment to his wife (an art curator) and young child. The film is based on the true story of the Barriuso brothers’ father, and the little-known history of how over twenty thousand Chernobyl victims were eventually treated in Cuba.

Watch on Kanopy, free with a library card. Get immediate access to a LAPL e-card or LA County Library Digital Card

Friday, June 19, 2020

 

Photo credit: DEFA-Stiftung/Wolfgang Fritsche. All rights reserved.

This week we are offering our second guest selection, from Mariana Ivanova, the academic director of the DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst.

Coming Out opens with sirens and right away confronts us with a suicide attempt and the people’s need to face their desires. Philipp is a high-school teacher, loved by his students and respected by his colleagues; yet he lives in denial of his homosexuality. Teetering on the brink of domestic bliss, he gets engaged to his colleague Tanya. Philipp’s “solution,” however, is soon disturbed, when he unexpectedly meets an old love interest from high school. Torn by his feelings, Philipp randomly comes across a vivacious gay bar, where he meets 19-year-old Matthias…

The only gay movie produced in the GDR, Coming Out premiered the night the Berlin Wall opened on November 9, 1989. Commemorating the film’s 30 th anniversary, the DEFA Film Library will soon release a new edition, including interviews with lead actors Matthias Freihof, Dirk Kummer, and Dagmar Manzel. Coming Out was filmed on location at gay hangouts in East Berlin, including gay bars in Prenzlauer Berg and the Friedrichshain Volkspark. A little gem is a scene with the famous East German trans activist Charlotte von Mahlsdorf.

Watch on Kanopy, free with a library card. Get immediate access to a LAPL e-card or LA County Library Digital Card.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Da 5 Bloods, dir. Spike Lee, 2020, United States, 154 min

This week’s Friday Night Film is Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, premiering on Netflix. It follows a group of four Black veterans who reunite in Vietnam to search for their fallen squad leader’s remains, along with buried treasure. The film explores the enduring memories of the Vietnam War, one of the Cold War era's quintessential conflicts. The story unfolds in present-day but is also told in flashbacks (in which the aging actors play their younger selves).

Watch on Netflix, with a subscription.

Virtual Friday Night Films at the Wende: Paul Robeson Spotlight

Friday, June 5, 2020

This week's Virtual Friday Night Film selections are inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and spotlight Paul Robeson, a prominent Civil Rights activist and American actor with strong connections to the Cold War-period. In his youth, Robeson was an All-American football player, a graduate from Rutgers University and Columbia Law School. A renowned bass-baritone concert artist and film actor, Robeson became famous both for his cultural accomplishments and for his political activism. Robeson advocated for civil rights in the United States and abroad, and was sympathetic to the revolutionary ideals and conceived lack of racial prejudice in the Soviet Union. In part due to his association with international communist circles, and in part due to his prominent cultural and political role, the US government targeted Robeson in a McCarthyist attempt to silence him. He ultimately sacrificed his career for his beliefs and fight against injustice. 

Body and Soul

Body and Soul, dir. Oscar Michaeux, 1925, United States, 102 min. 

Paul Robeson's silent film screen debut, Body and Soul tells the story of a convict masquerading as a preacher in small-town Georgia, directed by pioneering African-American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux.

Watch on Kanopy or Criterion Collection. The Criterion Collection is currently streaming this film free, no subscription required. Kanopy films are free to watch with a library card. Get immediate access to a LAPL e-card or LA County Library Digital Card.

Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist

Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist, dir. Saul J. Turell, 1979, United States, 29 min.

Saul J. Turell's Academy Award-winning documentary short Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist, narrated by Sidney Poitier, traces his career through his activism and his socially charged performances of his signature song, "Ol' Man River."

Watch on Criterion Channel

Songs of Freedom - Musician and Activist Paul Robeson

Songs of Freedom - Musician and Activist Paul Robeson, 2008 DVD release, United States, 52 min.

Songs Of Freedom exposes the attempts of the FBI and other secret services in America to stop Robeson's rising popularity and their ongoing efforts to discredit his activism. The film reveals that Robeson's life was in danger as long as he continued along the path of international socialism.

Watch on Kanopy. Kanopy films are free to watch with a library card. Get immediate access to a LAPL e-card or LA County Library Digital Card.

Friday, May 29, 2020

As part of Virtual Friday Night Films at the Wende, Vladimir Paperny, Adjunct Professor at the Department of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Languages and Cultures at UCLA and author of Architecture in the Age of Stalin: Culture Two, will present a talk comparing two early Cold War films: Encounter at the Elbe (1949, Soviet Union) versus Berlin Express (1948, United States). This presentation is a continuation of his project with late film critic and screenwriter Maya Turovskaya, called "Hollywood in Moscow: American and Soviet Film of the 1930s-1940s."

Click Here to Watch


Friday, May 22, 2020

 

Ashes and Diamonds, dir. Andrzej Wajda, 1958, Poland, 104 min.

On the last day of World War II, Home Army resistance fighter Maciek (Zbigniew Cybulski) is under orders to kill a local communist official. Over the course of one night, he becomes more ambivalent towards his duty. Cybulski imbued the historical film with a modern sensibility—he refused to wear period costume, and instead showed up to set wearing his own jeans and iconic dark glasses. With its stylized black & white imagery, the film captures the disarray of a country on the brink of a new reality after the war. Ashes and Diamonds is regarded as one of the greatest Polish films of all time, and the masterpiece of director Andrzej Wajda.

Watch on Kanopy, free with a library card. Get immediate access to a LAPL e-card or LA County Library Digital Card.

Friday, May 15, 2020

 

Jana and Jan, dir. Helmut Dziuba, 1991, Germany, 84 min, produced by DEFA Studio.

This week we are offering our first guest selection, from Mariana Ivanova, the academic director of the DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst. 

Jan, almost 16, tried to escape to the West but ended up landing in Torgau, a secret East German penitentiary. Six months later, he was transferred to a juvenile detention center where he catches the eye of Jana, 17, who bets her girlfriends that she will “make him a man.” A survivor of her stepfather’s abuse, Jana doesn’t believe in love. This coming-of-age tale tackles not only the story of Jana and Jan, who fall for each other in the turbulent year the Berlin Wall opens; along with the couple’s tenderness and fierce argument when Jana decides to have an abortion, we witness the rough culture of the detention center and a girl’s struggle with same-sex desire and suicidal thoughts. Director and scriptwriter Helmut Dziuba was among the few East German filmmakers to screen the taboo topics of teenage pregnancy, child sexual abuse, abortion, and young people in detention centers. In the end, the still pregnant Jana and Jan make it into united Germany, but will that really help them? Jana and Jan was part of WENDE FLICKS: Last Films from East Germany that was organized by the DEFA Film Library and the Wende Museum and premiered at LACMA in 2009.

Watch on Kanopy, free with a library card. Get immediate access to a LAPL e-card or LA County Library Digital Card.

Friday, May 8, 2020

 

Viktoria, dir. Maya Vitkova, 2014, Bulgaria and Romania, 155 min.

Viktoria (2014) is director Maya Vitkova’s debut film about three generations of women in communist Bulgaria, and how their dreams and ideals alternately connect them to and alienate them from one another as the regime comes to an end around them. In 1979, Viktoria is born without an umbilical cord to her reluctant mother Boryana (and exultant grandmother Dima) and is consequently proclaimed "baby of the decade," despite the fact that Boryana desires above all to flee to the West. Vitkova captures what unfolds through a beautifully shot narrative with a rich color palette, recurring symbols, and very little dialogue, all of which combine to successfully compel the viewer to ponder the implications of the three women's choices.

Watch on Kanopy, free with a library card. Get immediate access to a LAPL e-card or LA County Library Digital Card.

 

Virtual Friday Night Films at the Wende: In the Dust of the Stars (Im Staub der Sterne)
Friday, April 30, 2020

In the Dust of Stars, dir. Gottfried Kolditz, 1976, East Germany, 95 min., produced by DEFA Studio.

This 1976 science fiction film follows Commander Akala of the Cynro spaceship and her crew after they crash-land on the mysterious planet TEM 4 while attempting to respond to a distress call. The crew disembarks to investigate, only to find that TEM 4's leader, Ronk, claims the distress call was a mistake. Suspicions mount when the crew uncovers the planet's hidden reality.

This stylized East German and Romanian co-production features bold art direction that juxtaposes desolate pseudo-moonscapes with vivid costuming.

Watch on Kanopy, free with a library card. Get immediate access to a LAPL e-card or LA County Library Digital Card.

Friday, April 24, 2020

12:08 East of Bucharest, dir. Corneliu Porumboiu, 2006, Romania, 89 min.

A television talk show host, an alcoholic high school teacher, and an old man assemble in a drab Romanian town for a Christmastime TV special about the revolution that happened 16 years before. “Was there, or was there not a revolution in our town?” the host asks. He tries to get the truth about whether the townspeople began protesting before or after 12:08 p.m. on December 22, 1989, the exact moment that leader Nicolae Ceaușescu was ousted amid violent upheaval in Bucharest. This critically acclaimed deadpan comedy takes a satirical look at how we remember turning points in history, and how we forget them. Director Corneliu Porumboiu (who was playing ping pong at 12:08) said his film works against the concept that a revolution changes everything overnight.

Watch on Kanopy, free with a library card. Get immediate access to a LAPL e-card or LA County Library Digital Card.


Friday, April 17, 2020

Leto, dir. Kirill Serebrennikov, 2018, Russia, 126 min.

Leto (2018) is a black & white rock musical about a summer in the 1980s Leningrad music scene. It centers around Viktor, Mike, and Natalia—Viktor is Viktor Tsoi of the real-life band Kino, and Mike is Mikhail Naumenko of Zoopark. The soundtrack combines their music with the British and American songs they would have listened to illicitly, from the likes of the Talking Heads, Iggy Pop, and T. Rex. More mood piece than a biopic, the movie blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, with musical interludes, animations, and bursts of color. Theater and film director Kirill Serebrennikov completed the film while under house arrest in Moscow, for what many say were politically motivated charges due to his provocative work. Kino and Zoopark are featured on the Wende’s Soviet Punk Playlist.


Watch on Kanopy, free with a library card. Get immediate access to a LAPL e-card or LA County Library Digital Card.

 

Virtual Friday Night Films at the Wende: Whisper & SHOUT: a Rock Report
Friday, April 10, 2020

Whisper & SHOUT, dir. Dieter Schumann, 1988, East Germany, 115 min., produced by DEFA Studio.  

Whisper & SHOUT: a Rock Report (1988) offers a glimpse into the East German music scene of the late 1980s, big hair and all. This documentary takes the viewer onboard tour vans and into poster-covered teenage bedrooms, weaving together concert footage and interviews with musicians and their fans. It profiles six bands, ranging from the state-supported synth-pop group Silly to the underground punk band Feeling B (members of which went on to found Rammstein). The film was a box office hit and made it past censors, but still hints at the struggles bands faced in order to make music in East Germany. Tina Bara, featured in the Wende's recent exhibition, The Medea Insurrection, was a researcher and photographer for the film.

Watch on Kanopy, free with a library card. Get immediate access to a LAPL e-card or LA County Library Digital Card.

 

Virtual Friday Night Films at the Wende: Moscow-Cassiopeia
Friday, April 3, 2020

Moscow-Cassiopeia, dir. Richard Viktorov, Soviet Union, 1974, 85 min; with Teens in the Universe, 1975, 85 min.

Science fiction gained popularity in the USSR during Nikita Khrushchev's cultural thaw, but the genre still had to conform to the known laws of science. It was not until the 1970s that time travel appeared in Soviet film, and Richard Viktorov’s sci-fi comedy Moscow-Cassiopeia (1973) was one of the first. Featuring futuristic sets and gadgets, a mischievous stowaway, and even a version of remote learning, the film enforces values such as inventiveness, teamwork, and a positive depiction of science and education as teens board a spaceship for a lifelong mission to the constellation Cassiopeia. In the sequel, Teens in the Universe (1974), the crew reaches a planet taken over by robots that promise an ideal society of “happiness” but deprive its inhabitants of free will—a not so subtle reflection on the Soviet Union’s Stalinist past. 

Both films are available on Kanopy, free with a library card. Get immediate access to a LAPL e-card or LA County Library Digital Card.