Ironic Inversions: Rare Soviet Yiddish Songs of WWII

מוזיק אין חורבן | Music in the Holocaust

[From In Geveb]

At the international symposium “Global Yiddish Culture: 1938-1949,” held at the University of Toronto this spring, singer-songwriter Psoy Korolenko of Moscow and U of T Professor Anna Shternshis brought to life lost Yiddish songs of the Holocaust in an all-new concert and lecture program.

During and immediately after World War II, the Kiev Cabinet for Jewish Culture, led by philologist Elye Spivak and folklorist Moshe Beregovski, began collecting and transcribing original songs composed by Soviet Jewish Holocaust refugees and survivors. But in 1949, before the Cabinet could publish their collection, these rare Yiddish artifacts were confiscated by the Soviet government and hidden from the public. Until recently, that is, when Shternshis found the collection while doing research at the Manuscript Department of the Ukrainian National Library. Shternshis then teamed up with Korolenko to reinterpret and present these songs to new audiences. The Toronto…

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Ukraine bans Soviet symbols and criminalises sympathy for communism

[From the Guardian]

New laws also honour controversialist nationalist groups that committed ethnic cleansing or allied with the Nazis for part of second world war

Two new laws that ban communist symbols while honouring nationalist groups that collaborated with the Nazis have come into effect in Ukraine, raising concerns that Kiev could be stifling free speech and further fragmenting the war-torn country in the rush to break ties with its Soviet past.

The first law “on the condemnation of the communist and Nazi totalitarian regimes” forbids both Soviet and Nazi symbols, making something as trivial as selling a USSR souvenir, or singing the Soviet national hymn or the Internationale, punishable by up to five years in prison for an individual and up to 10 years in prison for members of an organisation.

It also makes it a criminal offence to deny the “criminal character of the communist totalitarian regime of 1917-1991 in Ukraine” in the media or elsewhere.

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Man with a Movie Camera to be screened around the UK

[From The Calvert Journal]

The groundbreaking Soviet avant-garde film Man with a Movie Camera (1929) will screen in selected UK cinemas throughout August and into early September.

The experimental silent documentary film, the best-known work of Dziga Vertov, is considered one of the most innovative and influential films of the silent era. Man with a Movie Camera has been released by BFI as part of their series of screenings of the top ten documentaries of all time, as rated last year by Sight & Sound magazine.

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Vertov’s Man with Move Camera: Magic Mike XXL has nothing on early Soviet experimental documentary. Seriously.

[From The Guardian]

Russia.-Moscow-in-1920.-009I was sceptical, but Man With a Movie Camera is an extraordinary film that reveals everyday life in all its banal glory.

When a cinephile friend proposed an early Soviet documentary instead of Magic Mike XXL this week, I was sceptical. I prepared myself for 80 minutes of well-built workers extolling the virtues of collective agriculture.

But in Man With a Movie Camera – newly restored and showing at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London – late 1920s Russia and Ukraine positively fizz with life. In the hands of director Dziga Vertov, everyday goings-on, such as hitching a ride on a tram, having your hair done or washing clothes in a tub, take on an almost transcendent quality.

There’s gossip and laughter over beer and cigarettes, women in cloche hats riding in carriages, a conjurer delighting children with vanishing white mice. Beachgoers slather themselves with mud on the shores of the Black Sea. Babies are born, we witness a funeral procession, and weddings and divorces are recorded at the local register office. All the stuff of life is there, and there’s little sense of propaganda: if anything, Vertov seems to poke fun at the local “Lenin club” and the shooting gallery where punters take aim at a cartoonish “father of fascism”.

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