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Title: Elizaveta Svilova and Soviet documentary film
Author: Penfold, Christopher
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2013
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The focus of my research is Soviet documentary filmmaker, Elizaveta Svilova (1900-75), most commonly remembered, if at all, as the wife and collaborator of acclaimed Soviet film pioneer, Dziga Vertov (1896-1954). Having worked with her husband for many years, Svilova continued her career as an independent director-editor after Vertov fell out of favour with the Central Committee. Employed at the Central Studio for Documentary Film, a state-initiated studio, Svilova’s films were vehicles of rhetoric, mobilised to inform, educate and persuade the masses. She draws on visual symbols familiar to audiences and organises them according to the semiotic theories – namely techniques of dialecticism and linkage – attributed to the Soviet montage school of the 1920s. On-screen credits indicate that, during the period 1939 to 1956, Svilova was the director-editor of over 100 documentaries and newsreel episodes, yet this corpus of films has received very little critical attention. As my thesis aims to demonstrate, the reasons for the lack of attention to Svilova’s films are partly due to her husband’s eminent status – the rules whereby we construct film history have resulted in Svilova’s contribution being absorbed into Vertov’s – and this is related to the long-standing tendency within film criticism to marginalise the female artist. My thesis also touches on issues regarding curatorial and archival policies, and provides an opportunity to rethink early film history and the modes through which historiographic and filmographic knowledge are transmitted.
Supervisor: Bergfelder, Tim ; Dunn, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics ; PN1993 Motion Pictures ; ZA Information resources