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

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."

 

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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.

Streaming 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.

Streaming 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.

Streaming 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.

Streaming 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.

This film is streaming 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.


This film is streaming 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.

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