The Image of the Provinces in the Russian Cinema of the 2000s As a Focus of Civil Identity

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The essay investigates contemporary Russian films about the Russian provinces from the perspective of a major objective of the state cultural policy — that of ‘‘the strengthening of civil identity’’. This investigation raises a number of questions related to the concept, the understanding and the experience of civil and national identity, questions that fascinate both the filmmakers and the viewers. In this context, of particular interest are films about the provinces: they tell us about life in Russia’s distant regions, searching for phenomena that could unite a huge country into a unified civil society. In the Russian cinematography of the 2000s and 2010s, stories related to life in the provinces have become a fruitful field for exploring and reflecting on this theme at a completely different, compared to the Soviet era, level of internal directorial freedom which involves both previously untouched factual material and the authorial approach to it.

These films represent a large number of pressing problems of the Russian provinces in various artistic formats: from realistic dramas to tragicomedies and philosophical parables. In spite of the rather gloomy overall panorama of provincial reality, we can still acknowledge that the impenetrable desperation of a director's view of the life in the Russian provinces does not represent a universal attitude, and can conclude that there is an ongoing search for an “optimistic scenario” for the development of Russian life, primarily through trying to see and understand the Otherness (space-time) and the Other (human being). It is such an efforts to understand and find semantic platforms that could unite most diverse personalities and induce conversations about civil and national, rather than local, identity. These conversations through film art are intrinsically connected with the authorial intonations permeating the stories told on screen.

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Mikheeva Yulia V

Doctor of Arts, Professor of Department of Sound Design

S.A.Gerasimov Russian Federation State Institute of Cinematography
, 3, Wilhelm Pik street, 129226 Moscow, Russia

Author for correspondence.


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Copyright (c) 2018 Mikheeva Y.V.

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