Shadow Empire: Russian Film Symposium

May 8, 2019 (All day) to May 11, 2019 (All day)

The 21st annual Russian Film Symposium will focus on a key debate still surrounding Russia today: did Russia evolve toward a sustained empire, or has it recently reconfigured into what we would now recognize as the nation-state? The expansion of ethnicities, nationalities, language groups, as well as territory, necessitated the formation of a strong central state and administration to oversee the key factors that constituted the newly emerged polity. The state and its constantly expanding apparatus exercised control over a sixth of the planet, several hundred language-speaking communities and ethnicities. While this control was maintained in the name of (at times, Holy) Russia, was Russia as a nation largely absent?  If so, what does “belonging” look like in Russia today?

Films include Aleksei Krasovskii’s Holiday (2019), Sergei Livnev’s Van Goghs (2018), Aleksei German, Jr.’s Dovlatov(2018), Aleksei Fedorchenko’s Anna’s War (2018), Kirill Serebrennikov’s Summer (2018), Oleg Mavromatti’sMonkey, Ostrich, and Grave (2017), Boris Khlebnikov’sArrhythmia (2017), and Mikhail Segal’s A Film about Alekseev (2014).

Altogether, the Symposium will screen twelve films and host eight discussions with film scholars from Russia, the UK, and the US, with two roundtables for the participants to continue issues raised during the post-screening discussions. Participants include Russian critics and journalists Ekaterina Barabash, Svetlana Khokhriakova, and Oleg Sulkin; Oxford scholar Nikolaj Lübecker; US scholars Volha Isakava, Alexander Prokhorov, and Elena Prokhorova, as well as faculty and PhD students from Slavic and Film Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.

This year's co-sponsors include the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (REEES), the University Center for International Studies (UCIS), the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, the Film and Media Studies Program, the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, and the Cultural Studies Program.   For the schedule, see  For more information, please write Volodya Padunov at