Possibly the first feature-length documentary ever made, Dziga Vertov’s recently found and restored film, Anniversary of the Revolution, will see its world premiere at Tuschinski 1 in Amsterdam during IDFA 2018. On November 20th a special screening with live music will mark this celebration of documentary cinema history.
Tickets (€20) go on sale October 18th.
Anniversary of the Revolution was made by pioneering filmmaker Dziga Vertov (1896-1954) between early 1917 and 1918. Filming the developments surrounding the Russian Revolutions of February and October 1917, and the following civil war, Vertov documented events and protagonists that would change history. Using his own footage and occasionally the material of a few others, Vertov assembled his chronological account of the historical year into a two-hour film in 1918, making Anniversary of the Revolution possibly the first feature-length documentary film ever made.
Consequently, inter-titles were added between scenes, explaining the political context, presenting the portrayed politicians, and manifesting a young Vertov’s revolutionary discourse. In this sense, Anniversary of the Revolution presents us also with the earliest known use of documentary film as a tool for propaganda.
Initially screened in 1918, the film was shown in various settings, traveled with Vertov on his agit-train trips with Mihail Kalinin around the country, and was screened in train stations until 1921, as per his memoirs. For reasons still unclear and open to interpretation and analysis, the film was lost after that. Scenes from the film were used in other films, by Vertov himself and others, as well as in propaganda reels during the early days of the Soviet era, but Anniversary of the Revolution was never screened in full to an international audience until this year at IDFA.
Anniversary of the Revolution was recently restored based on a listing of all scenes in the film, discovered by film scholar Svetlana Ishevskaia in the course of her research in Russian archives. Film historian Nikolai Izvolov spent several months thoroughly investigating film archives to find fragments of Vertov’s film and to demonstrate their authenticity. The virtually complete restoration project of the film was carried out at, and with the support of, the Russian State Documentary Film and Photo Archive at Krasnogorsk.
Presented as part of IDFA on Stage, the special screening of Anniversary of the Revolution at IDFA will include a unique live music component. For this celebratory event, an outstanding group of Russian musicians is preparing a performance that also respects the silent nature of the film. In addition to the screening on November 20th at Theater Tuschinski 1, an extended program of artistic interventions, debates and discussions on Vertov and his film, and questions on restoration and preservation of documentary film heritage will be one of the highlights of IDFA 2018.
In the years to come, IDFA will continue its dedication to the restoration of documentary film heritage by collaborating annually with the EYE Film Institute. This continuous collaboration, as announced in July 2018, will be launched in 2019 and result in the restoration and presentation of a significant film from documentary cinema history, to be screened during each new edition of IDFA.
IDFA on Stage is supported by the Prins Bernard Cultuurfonds.