The Activist Film Studio: Selected works
Activist Film Studio aims to produce and distribute films dealing with activism and with different forms of (re)presenting and internally critiquing protest actions through experiments with the idiom of video art.
The studio’s films are not only educational experiences for viewers. They are the result of a learning process involving the entire collective researching and producing the films.
Activist Film Studio was initiated by Dmitry Vilensky (Chto Delat). It was inspired by previous work on a series of activist films produced by the Chto Delat platform in cooperation with a number of Russian and international activist projects.
Activist Film Studio’s films are produced by filmmakers who value the process of collective filmmaking and by people involved in the production and distribution of activist knowledge by means of cinematic narrative.
Activist Film Studio’s films are freely available on the Internet. They are meant to be screened in seminars and other educational contexts. In any case, public screenings of our films should be followed by open, public discussions.
Activist Film Studio is open to everyone interested in developing the (re)presentation of activist practices and ready to make films collectively. We encourage everyone to contact us for help in realizing their own film projects.
Russian Sounds (2011)
Concept and editing: Dmitry Vilensky (Chto Delat)
Production collective (research, screenplay, and direction): Sonya Akimova and Max Kulaev (DSPA); Pavel Arseniev, Dina Gatina, Roman Osminkin (Laboratory of Poetic Actionism); Nikolay Oleynikov, Dmitry Vilensky, Foma (Chto Delat); Oleg Zhuravlyev
This film was inspired by the editing, audio and narrative techniques used by Jean-Luc Godard in his film British Sounds (1969). Our film is an attempt to find out whether the spirit (if not the letter) of Godard’s experiments could be transferred to the suffocating reality of Russia on the eve of the 2011-2012 parliamentary and presidential elections. Godard’s film was released during a boisterous, revolutionary period in British politics and society. It was a manifesto for a new agitational cinema capable of describing the totality of social transformations in their dialectical emergence. Are we capable, in the midst of profound political and social reaction, of critically sharing Godard’s vision and aesthetics?
2+2 Practicing Godard (2009)
I was inspired to make this film after the police forced me to delete video footage of the OMON (special police unite) raid on our seminar in Nizhny Novgorod. I was struck by their brazen confidence that they could erase things from people’s memory as easily as you can delete a video image.
This film is meant as a response to their challenge. It shows that we can not only document the crimes of the authorities for posterity, but also shape our own space of interpretation. We can recreate our own histories, in which the deeds of the police will be remembered as shameful acts against society.
The film concept and directing: Dmitry Vilensky
Script collective: Oleg Zguravlyov, Nikolay Oleinikov, Kirill Medvedev, Dmitry Vilensky
This film is constructed on the documentary footage made in Nizgny Novgorod during the first Obshezitie / seminar-commune which starts a series of 48 hour seminars initiated by the Chto Delat collective and the Socialist Movement “Vpered” in 2009, dedicated to the idea of political subjectivation through collective practices, and aimed at breaking the conventional formats of discussions and conferences.
This seminar was interrupted by the raid of special police force at the beginning of the seminar when its participants were watching the film by Godard “1+1”. This situation had inspired the idea to reenact the scenes of police raid and combine them with reenactments of the few scenes from Godard movie imagining how we could project them into repressive reality of 2009 in Russia.
More information here.
Protest Match. Kirov Stadium (2006)
The Russian Social Forum run parallel to the G8 Summit in Saint Petersburg at Kirov Stadium, in July 2006. Before it opened the Russian security service hold an operation “Barrier”. In its wake more than 200 forum delegates from all over Russia were detained on their way to Petersburg.Running the Social Forum in parallel with the summit was something that was vetted with the authorities, who made an offer that couldn’t be refused: to hold the forum at the stadium. Everyone was sure that the authorities allocated this easily isolatable site on purpose, in order to keep the situation under control. Even before the forum began, the FSB and the police were blackmailing activists, demanding that they not take part in any protests and the forum.
Most print shops refused to print information about the forum and people were arrested for handing out leaflets. The authorities did their best to make sure that even minimal participation in the forum would seem risky.The film covers the situation that has happened at the stadium during Social Forum discussed with a series of interviews with leading and ordinary Russian political activists. The strong stadium’s architecture from 50th that could fit about 50000 people plays a symbolic background for tiny group of activist who build a camp inside it. It plays a role of estrangment device to the meaning of these event.
Poster campaign realized by the Pyotr Alexeev Resistance Movement in St. Petersburg during the G8 Summit
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: An Interview with Dmitry Vilensky by Thomas Campbell
Installations at the exhibitions “Self-education” at NCCA Moscow, September 2006 and “Urban Contact Zones” at Westwerk, Hamburg, August 2006
Both installations were realised in cooperation with Nikolay Oleynikov,who made wall graphics. Architecture by Dmitry Vilensky.
Chto delat made a special issue with the occasion of the Russian Social Forum of August 2006.
The newspaper was spread in Petersburg during the G8 summit. You can read it here.