Russians abroad in postcommunist cinema
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This study seeks to analyse cinematic representations of Russian characters that are portrayed as existing outside the Russian Federation,or ‘abroad’, by focusing on postcommunist cinema and the way it depicts the changing identities that occurred with the fall of the Soviet Union. The assertion of the thesis is that by depicting Russian characters abroad, filmmakers and their films are able to express, or comment on, global issues – such as labour migration, female prostitution, transnational crime and human trafficking, which have risen since the fall of communism. Examining the prevailing discourses (economic, social and political) concerning issues of migration and cross-border travel, the thesis identifies how the cultural capital of Russians traveling abroad comes under scrutiny from receiving countries. The range of films examined spans more than ten years of filmmaking and the study includes an examination of diverse contemporary filmmakers: Nikita Mikhalkov, Aleskei Balabanov, Yuri Mamin, Sergei Bodrov, Leonid Gorovets, Arik Kaplun, Pawel Pawlikowski, and Lukas Moodysson. These filmmakers and their films are selected from various cinematic contexts and filmmaking practices that are considered postcommunist. By asking the questions – who is speaking?, what is said? and to whom is it said? – the investigation is able to reveal the genre conventions, mode of address and specific ideological concerns that underpin the construction of onscreen cinematic ‘Russians abroad.’The cross-cultural analysis is divided into three parts: first a consideration of Russian filmmakers and their onscreen characters abroad; then Russian transnational cinema, where the focus switches to the investigation of filmmakers who are either floating IIfreely between national film industries or producing films in diaspora; and, lastly, non-Russian cinema where the emphasis is on filmmakers who have no claims to Russian nationality but who nonetheless make Russian ‘themed’ films. The theoretical framework that upholds the analysis is drawn from cross-cultural studies, postcolonial studies and studies in cinematic representation.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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