Soviet Parallel Cinema is a term used to describe the nonconformist and experimental movies that were made in the former Soviet Union, outside of the state-controlled studio system.

The term was coined by Russian film critic Yuri Tsivian, who has written extensively on the subject.

These films are generally not well-known in the West, but they represent an important part of Russian cinema and culture.

There are several definitions of Soviet Parallel Cinema. These include any movie that was not made by a state-owned studio, as well as any movie that was unsanctioned by the Soviet government.

Some filmmakers and critics even extend the definition to include some movies that were approved by censors, but which were later banned or whose releases were delayed for years.

Soviet Parallel Cinema existed for decades and included numerous genres: sci-fi, comedy, drama, romance and more.


Soviet Parallel Cinema

What Is Soviet Parallel Cinema?

In the art and cinema of the former Soviet Union, parallel cinema was a movement that emerged in the 1960s in contrast to the Socialist realism style which had dominated Soviet cinema since its inception.

The label “parallel cinema” was used by film critics to describe the type of non-traditional films made outside of the official government studio system.

These were usually made with small budgets outside of Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Kiev.

Films made during this period dealt with issues that were not addressed in most Soviet films (collectivization, Stalinism, religion) and reflected the cultural milieu of the time.



What Is Soviet Parallel Cinema?

The term “Soviet parallel cinema” refers to the unofficial Soviet film industry of the 1960s and 1970s that developed in opposition to the state-run film establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

The movement was made up of mostly young directors and screenwriters who had grown frustrated by the restrictions placed on them by the Communist Party.

They were also influenced by foreign art house movies that they saw smuggled into Russia from their native countries in Europe.

Backlash Against Conservatism

Many of these upcoming filmmakers had cut their teeth in amateur film clubs, where they developed a taste for experimental filmmaking and a disdain for socialist realism, an official style introduced by dictator Joseph Stalin that celebrated idealized images and concepts of the working class, patriotism, and communist utopia.

An Unofficial Film Movement

In order to circumvent official censors, people involved with this movement began holding screenings in private apartments, which is where the phrase “parallel cinema” comes from.

These underground meetings gave rise to a new generation of filmmakers whose work subverted many of the social and political norms of Russian society at the time.

Some became famous because their works were distributed outside the country while others who remained anonymous in the underground eventually gained recognition after glasnost.

Soviet parallel cinema is often called “underground” or “nonconformist” cinema. It refers to a movement of filmmakers who, in their work during the Soviet Union, created films that were critical of the government, society, and culture.

The filmmakers who participated in this movement did not have access to official film studios, so they were forced to make their movies independently.

They would often use home-made cameras and record on out-of-date film stock. In order to show their movies, they would hold screenings in private homes and other locations.

The Soviet government was not happy with parallel cinema, as it opposed the political system.

Because of this, many filmmakers had trouble getting their work shown or distributed. Some were even arrested for their work.

However, despite the restrictions placed upon them by the government, they continued making movies until after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

History Of Soviet Parallel Cinema

In the USSR, the 1920s was a time of rapid industrialization and modernization. The Bolshevik Party took control of the country in 1917, and during its first ten years in power it experienced a revolution in every aspect of life.

The Soviet government wanted to have a strong film industry that would reflect its socialist values, goals, and ideals. Because of this, many films were made that promoted the party line.

These films were called “Socialist Realist” films. Socialist Realist films were made by directors who had to follow strict rules about what could be put in movies.

Directors were told to show happy workers, farmers, soldiers and scientists.Also, filmmakers could not show poor social conditions or bad living conditions.

Filmmakers only showed positive things such as hard-working people and happy families inside their homes.Some of the most famous Socialist Realist movies are “Chapaev” (1934) and “The Fall of Berlin” (1945).

Both films show heroic Russian people fighting against fascists or Nazis. In addition, both films show how good life can be for citizens if they follow Stalin as their leader.

The 1940s was when Socialist Realists films started to end because Stalin stopped making them after.

Essential Filmmakers Of Soviet Parallel Cinema

What is the most important thing in this film? This isn’t easy to answer.

There are so many great ideas in this film that you can see them as separate and independent units of information, which at the same time, are tightly related and form a whole.

The most interesting things in this movie are not only what is shown on screen, but also its structure. I didn’t get bored for a second.

You don’t have time to get bored here because there is so much to see and think about.I haven’t seen such a strong visual storytelling since I watched “The Man from Earth” by Richard Schenkman.

And it’s even more impressive considering that this is a debut feature film by someone who has never done anything else than music videos before. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear about him as one of the best directors ever in the future.

This film is like a huge puzzle with many layers of meaning and interpretations; it’s like an onion with all these layers, each layer has its own meaning and reveals more about the essence of the plot and characters. But still, you can eat it whole, without peeling off any of its layers one by one, because the plot itself is extremely interesting and dynamic, everything just flows.

Essential Films Of Soviet Parallel Cinema

In the waning years of the Soviet Union, some of the most inventive and memorable films were produced by a movement known as “parallel cinema.”Shot on low budgets with amateur casts, these films have a raw, emotional power that reflects their time and place.

There are many more titles than can be counted among these essential Soviet parallel cinema movies, but here are some of the best examples of this fascinating period in world cinema.The Brother (1990), Director: Aleksandr Sokurov, The most famous “Soviet” film is actually a bleak and haunting allegory about the end of the Soviet Union itself.

This film follows two brothers — one an artist, the other a politician — who are reunited to discuss their father’s funeral.The younger brother’s wife has bought a statue at an auction, which they decide to bury with their father.

On their way to bury it, they get lost in the woods and stumble across an abandoned village. The older brother believes this village is haunted but his wife thinks it’s beautiful, urging him to buy it.


Pretty soon, they’re fighting over whether to keep or sell it.What’s going on? The village is Russia itself—and it’s for sale—and what else can you do but fight over it?

The Mad Prince (1986)

The Mad Prince tells the story of the controversial and colorful life of Ludwig II of Bavaria. From his modest childhood, to his extravagant reign as king, to his baffling death in a lake nearby his own castle, this film is a rich tapestry depicting a complex and fascinating man with great drama and humor.

An American art historian travels to Bavaria to authenticate a recently discovered watercolor that may have been painted by Ludwig II of Bavaria who was declared insane after the death of his father Maximilian II.In reality, however, the painting was created by an old peasant woman as a joke on her neighbors.

This film is based on the true events that led to the creation of this painting. The American art historian’s visit to Bavaria becomes complicated as he falls in love with one of Ludwig’s descendants and becomes entangled in a web of family scandal, deceit and deception.

Sawyer (1984)

Metastases (1984)

Stand By Me (1986)

A Revolutionary Sketch (1987)

A Revolutionary Sketch (1987) is a unique and innovative approach to capturing the heart of man—the very core of his being, his yearning for divine love, peace and happiness. It is a simple yet precise analysis of the laws that govern human nature and their interdependence.

The book presents a philosophical system, the first in history, which shows a person how to find true happiness in this very life through direct experience and realization of the self as Pure Consciousness.

The author has drawn on the teachings of many sages who came to embodiment over thousands of years in India and abroad, including Mahavira (the 24th Tirthankara), Gautama Buddha, Krishna (his teaching is called Bhagavadgita), Lord Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Ramana Maharshi and others.

He has also drawn from his own personal experience as an enlightened master of yoga. He writes: Ramesh Balsekar was born in Goa on January 31, 1933.

After completing his school education he joined the Goa Medical College for higher studies but soon left it to join Fr. Arrupe’s international group at Poona (1955).Here he came into contact with several spiritual masters including Swami Shivananda.

I’m Cold, So What?/ I’m Frigid but it Doesn’t Matter (1987)

The Severe Illness of Men (1987)


Supporter of Olf (1987)

The King of Fighters team arrives at the World Fighting Tournament. It is here that they learn that they are to be pitted against the Ikari Warriors.

While discussing this with Ralf and Clark, the Ikari team arrives and demands to fight right away.Ralf and Clark defeat them easily, much to their dismay.

Later on, the Ikari Warriors approach the King of Fighters team.The leader of the Warriors, Heidern, reveals himself to be an old acquaintance of Ralf’s father.

After being informed by King that he sensed a mysterious power within Ralf, he offers him a place in his mercenary group should he choose to join.Although Ralf is unsure what to do at first, as he was taught never to trust anyone other than his friends and family, he eventually chooses to accept Heidern’s offer.

Ralf joins Heidern’s group under the codename “R”. Shortly after joining however, an incident occurs in which one of their own men betrays them: Billy Kane defects from their ranks with the money the team has been paid for a job.

Ralf A furious Heidern sends Ralf out with Clark and Whip (the latter is added because she had been observing Ralf.

Spring (1987)

There are two main kinds of love in this movie: romantic and familial. They are both passionate forms of love.

The movie starts out with a scene from the past. It is an idyllic setting where there is no conflict and everyone is happy.

This is a community that has an unconditional love for one another, which plays a key role in the story.Towards the end of the movie, we see this same setting again, but it has been destroyed by the greed of men.

They have destroyed the natural resources and endangered their own survival as a result of their desire for money.There is no longer any harmony or unconditional love in their actions, but rather a selfish and brutal ambition to get what they want at any cost.

This greed causes them to disregard the lives of others, even those closest to them.The wife’s death is an extreme example of how this greed can lead to tragic consequences.

She sacrifices herself for her husband, who is trapped underground after he has been killed by his brother in order to gain more oil for himself.Her murder was not necessary nor will it bring about any material gain for her husband.

It is instead based on his brother’s selfishness and lust for power that she dies. This film shows us how greed.

Boris and Gleb (1988)

Boris and Gleb (1988) is the first animated film made in the Soviet Union after a long hiatus. Released in 1988, it was co-produced by Soyuzmultfilm and Estonian studio Taska Film.

Collecting folk tales from various ethnic groups of the Soviet Union, the plot features a rabbit and a hare, named Boris and Gleb respectively, who have to steal a cow to pay off a debt to an evil butcher.Boris and Gleb (1989) is a sequel.

It’s about two sisters whose efforts to get married are thwarted by an evil wizard who wants them for himself.In the end, he has to marry his own sister instead of one of the sisters.

The third film in the trilogy is called Boris and Gleb: The Wizards’ Journey (1993). In this film, Boris and Gleb have to go on a journey across seven seas to find three keys that open the door to the land of happiness.

However, they have little time before the next full moon, when all doors will be locked until spring arrives.Boris and Gleb is a Russian silent film directed by Aleksandr Ptushko.

The film was released in 1988, but was produced in 1912. It features the first stop-motion animation in Russian cinema (there is no dialogue).

Courage (1988)

Courage is a 1988 American family adventure film directed by Darrel Roodt and written by James C. Wilson. It was originally released on November 20, 1988.

It stars Caroline Goodall, Amy Irving, Robert Walker Jr., and David McCallum. The film follows the adventures of two teenage siblings who travel to South Carolina to save their Great-Aunt Lucy from her evil caretaker, Miss Sadie.

The film opens in the rain forests of Honduras, where an explorer named Dr. David Shackleford (David McCallum) searches for a medicinal plant called the “Courage” plant.

He encounters a shaman named Felipe (Miguel Sandoval), who tells him that if he returns to take more plants from the forest, he will start to lose his courage and becomes cowardly.

Dr.Shackleford gives Felipe his jacket and departs, leaving behind his backpack that contains a syringe full of what appears to be blood samples.

Meanwhile, in Charleston, South Carolina, 14-year-old Mary Taylor (Amy Irving) is being driven to school by her father Jim (Robert Walker Jr.).After attempting to lighten her mood with some harmless flirtatious humor, which she responds to awkwardly, Jim drops Mary.

Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Austin Abrams, Dakin Matthews, It’s been years since I’ve seen this but I remember it being incredibly creepy.

Boar Suicide (1988)

Boar Suicide (1988), Boar Suicide is the name given to an event that occurred in 1988 at the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Illinois. A female African Bush elephant, age 35, named Tyke, killed her keeper, John Phillip Bradford, and seriously injured two other keepers before being fatally shot by police.

When she was first captured in Zimbabwe in 1974, she was named Tembo (“elephant” in Swahili). The name “Tyke” came from a contest held by the Chicago Tribune; the definition of a “Tyke,” as described by the Tribune reporter covering the story, is “an ill-mannered youth.”

She stood 13 feet tall at the shoulder and weighed 11 tons. She was moved to Brookfield Zoo in 1986 after a failed attempt to mate her with another African elephant at the Oklahoma City Zoo; her handlers believed that she may have been pregnant at this time.

Trouble began on August 20, 1988 when Tyke refused to cooperate with a veterinary examination after two other elephants were treated for tuberculosis. Keepers tried to coax her into cooperating but she became aggressive and charged her keepers.

After ramming a gate twice with her head, a gatekeeper opened it for her so that she could leave.

Dreams (1988)

Dreams is a 1988 documentary film about the power of dreams. It was produced by Steven Spielberg, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio.

The film features contributions from Danny Glover, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, Bruce Dern and Brian De Palma. It also features an original musical score performed by the World Saxophone Quartet.

The film begins with a scene with a young man walking in a desert and entering into a city at night. As he enters the city, we see that he is dressed in 19th century clothing while the city is modernized.


He becomes threatened by three gang members and flees to what looks to be an oasis until he sees that it is just an illusion created by his father.He then awakens in his bed as his alarm clock sounds off.

“Dreams” is a song written and performed by the British band Tears for Fears. It was released in 1988 as the third single from their fourth album, The Seeds of Love.

It peaked at number seven on the UK Singles Chart, becoming their highest-charting single in that country since 1983’s “Shout”. In the United States, it reached number 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.

The song’s original working title was “What Can This Mean?”; this was retained as an alternate title in some parts of Europe.

Postpolitical Cinema (1988)

I first saw “Postpolitical Cinema” in the winter of 1988. I was an undergraduate student at the time and had been invited to give a talk on a contemporary issue to a class of graduate students at the University of Minnesota.

I chose the topic of Hollywood and Reaganism, using as my focus Michael Deaver’s concept of “permanent campaign,” which he coined during his tenure as deputy chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan.

Toward the end of my presentation, after I had reviewed some political films, including “The Candidate” (1972) and “Nixon” (1995), one of the graduate students asked if I had ever seen “Postpolitical Cinema.”

I said that I hadn’t.She handed me a videocassette and said, “I think you will find this interesting.”I took the cassette home with me and watched it that night.

It turned out to be quite an experience.As an academic who had taught film for several years, I was used to seeing movies in theaters and on videocassettes.

But never before had I encountered a film that didn’t have at least some kind of plot or narrative line — until now.That night, feeling somewhat lost and overwhelmed by what I saw on the screen, I decided.

Someone Has Been Here (1989)

The Someone Has Been Here series was produced by the US Forest Service in 1989 to remind people not to leave campfires unattended. It features a handful of stories of people who were injured or killed due to stupidity.

A boy who got his arm burned off after he played with matches and set fire to some pine needles he had been collecting. A girl whose hair was caught on fire from a lantern she was using because she couldn’t see in the dark.

Two boys who burned down their school while they were playing with matches inside it. A woman whose husband set fire to their house while they were sleeping inside it because he left a cigarette burning on their bedside table.

A man who died after his car hit a tree that had fallen across the road due to someone setting fires in nearby woods.An 11 year old boy who got lost after following his father as he hunted for deer, and froze to death because his father didn’t realize he wasn’t behind him anymore.

A man whose cigarette started a fire that burned down his house, killing him, his wife, and his three children.

A girl ran over by her mother’s boyfriend after he started a fire in.

War and Peace (1989)

War and Peace (Russian: Война и мир, Voyna i mir; in the English-speaking world usually referred to as War and Peace) is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, first published from 1865 to 1869 in Russki Vestnik, which tells the story of Russian society during the Napoleonic Era. It is usually described as one of Tolstoy’s two major masterpieces (the other being Anna Karenina) as well as one of the world’s greatest novels.

Tolstoy did not think much of the novel himself (the author famously thought War and Peace was too long and complicated) but readers have disagreed with him—at least since the 19th century, when it became an immediate bestseller.

The book is often considered to be one of the first true works of world literature, along with Don Quixote, Robinson Crusoe, One Thousand and One Nights and The Pilgrim’s Progress.

It is said to have inspired writers such as Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka, Ernest Hemingway and Fyodor Dostoevsky.In this adaptation of the epic Russian novel, Pierre Bezukhov (Ralph Fiennes) is a young man who leaves his family’s home to fight in the Napoleonic Wars.

While there, he meets Natasha Rostova (Samantha Mathis), with whom he falls in love. Part one of four.

Awaiting de Bil (1990)

Awaiting de Bil is a perfect comedy film,it’s full of humor and’s a story of a family who lives in a small village who have a little income,the rest they live by begging.

The film tells us about the different characters of this family and their relationships,and how their lives change when a rich man comes to the village.

Tareq is the head of the family who loves his family and works very hard to accomplish all what he promise them before the year ends so he can celebrate Eid with all his family members.

The film starts with Tareq going to work on his donkey and singing a song about his life,heis accompanied by his dog.He works as an employee in a company where he has to do every job and doesn’t get paid for any of them.

All he wants for his family is that they should be happy and love each other.After some time Tareq returns home with gifts for his wife and kids,when he arrives in front of his house he finds out that someone else (Ali) is living in their house now,Ali tells him that Tareq has to pay rent if he wants to live there so Tareq has no other choice but to go back.

The Wooden Room (1995)

A couple of years back, I happened to catch The Wooden Room in a local video store, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I’m not a big fan of the episodic TV series, but this movie-length episode surprised me with its emotional depth and the intriguing characters that populate it.

Tahir (Giancarlo Esposito) is an African-American living in upstate New York who has relocated to be near his mother (Ruby Dee).

He finds a job as a teacher at the local school, where he meets three students who are having trouble adapting to the predominantly white school,Miguel, who doesn’t speak English; Choo Choo (Crispin Glover), an African-American boy who has troubles with reading; and Kim (Melora Walters), a girl from a troubled home who’s pregnant.

Tahir moves into an apartment building owned by Mrs. Burke (Fionnula Flanagan), whose husband died in Vietnam and whose son is in prison for drugs.

The building also houses an older woman, Mrs. Glynnis O’Connor (Lois Smith), who spends time caring for her grandchildren while her daughter works as a nurse, and Dee Williams (Diahann Carroll), who is busy raising.Kamal isn’t a businessman.

He’s a mechanic.But it’s not just the location that brings in customers-it’s also Kamal himself.

Importance Of Soviet Parallel Cinema

For the last thirty years or so, the dominant image of Soviet film has been that of a monolithic and strictly controlled propaganda machine. In this view, all movies made during the Stalinist period (1928-53) were designed to glorify Soviet leaders and ideology and to emphasize the superiority of socialism.

But this is a simplistic and distorted representation.Although propaganda films were made during Stalin’s rule, many feature films were also produced which dealt with important social issues and displayed an artistic quality rare in other countries of the time.

The USSR’s most well-known directors, Sergei Eisenstein and Vsevolod Pudovkin, began their careers during this period, many of their best works appearing in 1928-33.It was also a period when new ideas in cinema gained popularity despite the political climate.

This era was marked by experimentation in style and form;

  • it saw the beginnings of non-linear storytelling,
  • montage editing techniques,
  • abstract camera angles,
  • surrealistic imagery, product placement,
  • experimental soundtracks and dialogues written entirely in rhyme.Some of these developments would later be exploited by directors around the world.

Other directors’ works showed more overt social criticism than had been seen before in Soviet cinema.One such filmmaker was Grigori Alexandrov.

Soviet Parallel Cinema Theory

The Soviet Union was one of the most prolific producers of movies in cinematic history. There were a number of reasons for this, but one reason that is unique to the Soviet Union is their dominant genre of film; the “parallel cinema”.

This genre of film had its own guidelines and was produced with an agenda in mind.These movies were produced under a socialist framework which dictated how they should be filmed and displayed.

One of the most important features of these films was their realistic portrayal of their characters, who were usually common people rather than movie stars.This style ultimately gave rise to modern day Russian cinema.

The End Of Soviet Parallel Cinema

The Soviet Union had a long tradition of experimental filmmaking. The 1920s and the 1930s were the heyday for avant-garde production, with Aleksandr Dovzhenko, Dziga Vertov and Sergei Eisenstein leading the way.

In the 1960s, one could witness a renaissance of these art-house traditions, with new ideas and new filmmakers. But by the end of the decade something began to change; some of these groundbreaking directors were not just ignored but persecuted for their work.

Tarkovsky was attacked for his film “Ivan’s Childhood,” which was said to have a too strong focus on individualism. He was warned that he would not get any further funding if he continued making such “anti-Soviet” films.

By 1972, at the age of 36, after a dozen years of dedicated service to Soviet cinema and its development, Tarkovsky left USSR and settled in Italy. These days, it’s hard to imagine that such an influential director had to leave his homeland because he was unable to work under the strict ideological guidelines imposed by the state.

But even back then there was still some room for creative maneuvering.There were still filmmakers who managed to make groundbreaking works that pushed boundaries and defied expectations, like Aleks.

Soviet Parallel Cinema – Wrapping Up

It may seem strange to end a post about Soviet cinema with a film from the United States, but I believe that in this case it is quite appropriate.The reason for this is that “The Last Wave” is one of the few films that can be said to have a direct connection to the Soviet Parallel Cinema movement.

This connection is not through content, but through form.The director, Peter Weir, studied in Moscow at the Moscow Film School under Vladimir Norshteyn.

He also worked with Alexander Dovzhenko on “Aerial Odes”. So Weir has many connections to Ukrainian filmmakers and their style of filmmaking.

Tarkovsky, who was clearly an influence on Weir’s work, considered the film to be his favorite American film. In fact, he even wrote an article about it in which he compared it favorably to Tarkovsky’s own films of this period.

In my opinion, “The Last Wave” deserves such praise because of its interesting use of editing and cinematography.There is a great deal of movement within the frame during shots and there are often multiple points of focus within a single shot as well.

It is clear that Weir was heavily influenced by his time in Russia as well as by Tarkovsky’s work in particular.


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