Slipping Beauty Past the Soviet Censors

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The Cinema of Sergei ParajanovThe Cinema of Sergei Parajanov
by James Steffen
Wisconsin. 326 pages, $29.95

 

IT MAY BE serendipitous that James Steffen’s Cinema of Sergei Parajanov, the first ever English-language academic text devoted to the Soviet filmmaker, appears at this particular moment. At a time when our news feeds are exploding with reports of Russian state-sanctioned violence against GLBT people, Steffen’s book (re)introduces us to a powerful, poetic, and queer voice from behind the Iron Curtain. Indeed, Steffen’s monograph reminds us that gay people in Russia have a long history of navigating systems of oppression, which have imbued much of their work. The book, a well deserved homage, is the result of years of research and study not only of Parajanov’s films but also of the Soviet filmmaking system and the larger political and cultural atmosphere of a closed society.

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