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Cosmic futures film series

Cosmic futures at the Art Gallery of New South Wales: landmarks of Soviet cinema on 35mm film

Russian ark (dir Alekandr Sokurov, Russia, 2002). Courtesy Potential Films.

Cosmic futures, the latest in the free film series at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, is a rare opportunity to see visionary Russian cinema in conjunction with the exhibition Masters of modern art from the Hermitage.

Featuring the best of early space-age Soviet cinema, a mini-Andrei Tarvkosky retrospective and recent landmarks from Andrey Zvyagintsev (Loveless), Cosmic futures unites audience favourites with new discoveries from beyond the canon.

Cosmic futures takes its cue from Masters of modern art from the Hermitage which captures the idealism and confidence of artists – such as Monet, Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso and Gauguin – as they freed themselves from tradition and inspired their Russian contemporaries Kazimir Malevich and Wassily Kandinsky.

In 1915 Malevich’s Black square (on view in Masters of modern art from the Hermitage) heralded a beginning and end for modern art. Cosmic futures asks where to from here? Malevich’s impulse to free art from the ‘dead weight of the real world’ migrated from the black square to the white screen – a new utopian state needed a new film language.

Created by AGNSW curator of film, Ruby Arrowsmith-Todd, the Cosmic futures film series opens on Sunday 4 November with a special screening of the first Soviet sci-fi film Aelita: Queen of Mars accompanied by a newly commissioned live score by acclaimed Sydney electronic artist, Lucy Cliché.

“In the wake of the Russian Revolution in 1917, cinema became a new testing ground for bold aesthetic experimentation. Aelita is a marvel of constructivist set design, gleaming antennae and metallic bras. It inspired Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and remains a dazzling big screen experience” Arrowsmith-Todd said.

Revolutionary energy spills over in the formal daring of Dziga Vertov (Man with a movie camera) and the screwball humour of Alexander Medvedkin’s rarely-screened comedy New Moscow.

“Audience favourites will screen alongside important rediscoveries by leading female filmmakers including Larisa Shepitko and Chantal Akerman,” Arrowsmith-Todd said.

Cosmic futures also offers Sydneysiders an unmissable three-week Andrei Tarkovsky retrospective on stunning-35mm prints.

“If you’ve never seen Tarkovsky’s masterpieces Stalker and Solaris on 35mm on the big screen, don’t miss this chance,” Arrowsmith-Todd said.

The film series concludes with an opportunity for audiences to reflect on contemporary Russian society courtesy of renowned auteur, Andrey Zvyagintsev.

“Zvyagintsev is the spiritual successor of Tarkovsky. The Return and Leviathan are powerful meditations on life in Russia today,” Arrowsmith-Todd said.

Film series: Cosmic futures

Wednesdays 2pm & 7.15pm, Sundays 2pm
4 November – 10 February 2019
Free, bookings recommended
Domain Theatre

4 Nov – Aelita: Queen of Mars (dir. Yakov Protazanov, 1924, 35mm)*
7/11 Nov – Russian ark (dir. Alexander Sokurov, 2002, 35mm)
14/18 Nov – Man with a movie camera (dir. Dziga Vertov, 1929, 35mm)
21/25 Nov – New Moscow (dir. Alexander Medvedkin, 1938, Digital)
28 Nov/2 Dec – The ascent (dir. Larisa Shepitko, 1977, 35mm)
5/9 Dec – The cranes are flying (dir. Mikhail Kalatozov, 1957, 35mm)
12/16 Dec – Solaris (dir. Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972, 35mm)
9/13 Jan – Stalker (dir. Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979, 35mm)
16/10 Jan – The mirror (dir. Andrei Tarkovsky, 1974, 35mm)
23/27 Jan – From the East: D’Est (dir. Chantal Akerman, 1993, 16mm)
30 Jan/3 Feb – The return (dir. Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2003, 35mm)
6/10 Feb – Leviathan (dir. Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2014, 35mm)

*Silent film with live music; ticketed event ($12 concession, member / $15 adult)

Media contact

Hannah McKissock-Davis
Tel 02 9225 1671
hannah.mckissock-davis@ag.nsw.gov.au