Report from the 2019 Russian Film Symposium: Shadow Empire

The twenty-first annual Russian Film Symposium, held at the University of Pittsburgh between Monday 6 May and Saturday 11 May 2019, featured twelve screenings of Russian films made between 2002 and 2018 (four on DCP subtitled prints during evening screenings at the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium and eight on subtitled DVDs at the scholarly sessions in the Cathedral of Learning), eight panels (each with an introducer to a film screening and a respondent to both the film and the introduction after the screening), two roundtables, and forty-two scholars from Russia, the UK, and the US. All introductions to the panels and evening screenings, post-screening responses, discussions with audiences, and roundtables were recorded digitally and can be accessed on the Symposium’s website (

Admission to all panels and evening screenings was open to the general public. Over the course of the week, 1,135 people attended the eight morning and afternoon panels, the four evening screenings, the roundtables, and the excursions. In effect, attendance at this year’s Symposium was in keeping with previous years—in part because the Russian Film Symposium has become a recognized annual cultural event in Pittsburgh.

The Symposium received press coverage in the Russian-language press and on radio. Novaya Gazette (virtually the sole remaining Russian-language newspaper that is independent of the government) did a summary overview of the Symposium upon its completion, while the Russian Service of the Voice of America featured a segment on the Symposium and its history.

Vladimir Padunov, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures -