Directed by Margy Kinmonth, this documentary encapsulates a momentous period in the history of Russia and the Russian avant-garde.
Drawing on the collections of major Russian institutions, contributions from contemporary artists, curators and performers, and personal testimony from the descendants of those involved, the film brings the artists of the Russian avant-garde to life. It tells the stories of artists like Chagall, Kandinsky, Malevich and others – pioneers who flourished in response to the utopian challenge of building a new art for a new world, only to be broken by implacable authority after 15 short years.
Stalin’s rise to power marked the close of this momentous period, consigning the avant-garde to obscurity. Yet the Russian avant-garde continues to exert a lasting influence over art movements up to the present day. The film confirms this, exploring the fascination that these colourful paintings, inventive sculptures and propaganda posters retain over the modern consciousness 100 years on.
It was filmed entirely on location in Moscow, St Petersburg and London, with access to the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Russian Museum, the State Hermitage Museum and in co-operation with the Royal Academy of Arts, London. The film features paintings previously banned and unseen for decades, and masterpieces which rarely leave Russia.
Contributors include museum directors Professor Mikhail Piotrovsky and Zelfira Tregulova, and film director Andrei Konchalovsky. The film also features the voices of Matthew Macfadyen, Tom Hollander, James Fleet, Eleanor Tomlinson and Daisy Bevan.