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Elizaveta Svilova and Soviet documentary film

Elizaveta Svilova and Soviet documentary film
Elizaveta Svilova and Soviet documentary film
The focus of my research is Soviet documentary filmmaker, Elizaveta Svilova (1900-75), most commonly remembered, if at all, as the wife and collaborator of acclaimed Soviet film pioneer, Dziga Vertov (1896-1954). Having worked with her husband for many years, Svilova continued her career as an independent director-editor after Vertov fell out of favour with the Central Committee. Employed at the Central Studio for Documentary Film, a state-initiated studio, Svilova’s films were vehicles of rhetoric, mobilised to inform, educate and persuade the masses. She draws on visual symbols familiar to audiences and organises them according to the semiotic theories – namely techniques of dialecticism and linkage – attributed to the Soviet montage school of the 1920s.

On-screen credits indicate that, during the period 1939 to 1956, Svilova was the director-editor of over 100 documentaries and newsreel episodes, yet this corpus of films has received very little critical attention. As my thesis aims to demonstrate, the reasons for the lack of attention to Svilova’s films are partly due to her husband’s eminent status – the rules whereby we construct film history have resulted in Svilova’s contribution being absorbed into Vertov’s – and this is related to the long-standing tendency within film criticism to marginalise the female artist. My thesis also touches on issues regarding curatorial and archival policies, and provides an opportunity to rethink early film history and the modes through which historiographic and filmographic knowledge are transmitted.
Penfold, Christopher
f5619c4f-9994-4060-8b89-0153f2354f77
Penfold, Christopher
f5619c4f-9994-4060-8b89-0153f2354f77
Bergfelder, Tim
fb4e3b67-06fd-4b9f-9a94-bc73a1c7c16d
Dunn, David
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Penfold, Christopher (2013) Elizaveta Svilova and Soviet documentary film. University of Southampton, Faculty of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis, 349pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

The focus of my research is Soviet documentary filmmaker, Elizaveta Svilova (1900-75), most commonly remembered, if at all, as the wife and collaborator of acclaimed Soviet film pioneer, Dziga Vertov (1896-1954). Having worked with her husband for many years, Svilova continued her career as an independent director-editor after Vertov fell out of favour with the Central Committee. Employed at the Central Studio for Documentary Film, a state-initiated studio, Svilova’s films were vehicles of rhetoric, mobilised to inform, educate and persuade the masses. She draws on visual symbols familiar to audiences and organises them according to the semiotic theories – namely techniques of dialecticism and linkage – attributed to the Soviet montage school of the 1920s.

On-screen credits indicate that, during the period 1939 to 1956, Svilova was the director-editor of over 100 documentaries and newsreel episodes, yet this corpus of films has received very little critical attention. As my thesis aims to demonstrate, the reasons for the lack of attention to Svilova’s films are partly due to her husband’s eminent status – the rules whereby we construct film history have resulted in Svilova’s contribution being absorbed into Vertov’s – and this is related to the long-standing tendency within film criticism to marginalise the female artist. My thesis also touches on issues regarding curatorial and archival policies, and provides an opportunity to rethink early film history and the modes through which historiographic and filmographic knowledge are transmitted.

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More information

Published date: May 2013
Organisations: University of Southampton, Film

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 367302
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/367302
PURE UUID: d57007dc-8de2-4c22-9d8e-3f9f2a0f45a5
ORCID for Tim Bergfelder: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-6585-6123

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 23 Oct 2014 11:23
Last modified: 06 Aug 2019 00:36

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Contributors

Author: Christopher Penfold
Thesis advisor: Tim Bergfelder ORCID iD
Thesis advisor: David Dunn

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