IDFA – Dziga Vertov

 A mail arrived from IDFA announcing quite a film historical event as part of the festival: “You are cordially invited to the IDFA 2018 world premiere of Dziga Vertov’s recently found and restored film, The Anniversary of the RevolutionPossibly the first feature-length documentary film ever made, The Anniversary of the Revolution screens November 20th in Tuschinski 1.” And about the film it goes like this:

The Anniversary of the Revolution was made by pioneering filmmaker Dziga Vertov (1896-1954) between early 1917 and 1918. Filming the developments surrounding the Russian Revolutions of February and October 1918, and the following civil war, Vertov documented events and protagonists that would change history. Using his own footage and occasionally the material of a few others, Vertov assembled his chronological account of the historical year into a two-hour film in 1918, making The Anniversary of the Revolution possibly the first feature-length documentary film ever made… to be continued

Consequently, inter-titles were added between scenes, explaining the political context, presenting the portrayed politicians, and manifesting a young Vertov’s revolutionary discourse. In this sense, The Anniversary of the Revolution presents us also with the earliest known use of documentary film as a tool for propaganda. 

Initially screened in 1918, the film was shown in various settings, traveled with Vertov on his agit-train trips with Mihail Kalinin around the country, and was screened in train stations until 1921, as per his memoirs. For reasons still unclear and open to interpretation and analysis, the film was lost after that. Scenes from the film were used in other films, by Vertov himself and others, as well as in propaganda reels during the early days of the Soviet era, but The Anniversary of the Revolution was never screened in full to an international audience until this year at IDFA.

The Anniversary of the Revolution was recently restored based on a listing of all scenes in the film, discovered by film scholar Svetlana Ishevskaia in the course of her research in Russian archives. Film historian Nikolai Izvolov spent several months thoroughly investigating film archives to find fragments of Vertov’s film and to demonstrate their authenticity. The virtually complete restoration project of the film was carried out at, and with the support of, the Russian State Documentary Film and Photo Archive at Krasnogorsk. 

Presented as part of IDFA on Stage, the special screening of The Anniversary of the Revolution at IDFA will include a unique live music component. For this celebratory event, an outstanding group of Russian musicians is preparing a performance that also respects the silent nature of the film. In addition to the screening on November 20th at Theater Tuschinski 1, an extended program of artistic interventions, debates and discussions on Vertov and his film, and questions on restoration and preservation of documentary film heritage will be one of the highlights of IDFA 2018.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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