Celebrated photo essayist and documentarian Marker shines a light on the history of the Soviet Union in the 20th Century through the filter of his friend and mentor, Russian director Alexander Medvedkin (1900-1989). Using archival footage, film clips from renowned directors of the period (notably Sergei Eisenstein) and interviews with family, colleagues and admirers, Soviet Cinema under Stalin comes into focus. In the form of six video letters to the deceased filmmaker, Marker ponders the confluence of art and politics in Russia.
Marker’s inquiry into one man’s life becomes a cerebral exploration of Communism, the Bolshevik spirit and the potential of cinema, told with Marker’s inimitable aesthetic flair and intelligence. Medvedkin, a devoted Communist, was nevertheless deemed subversive, and his movies were banned. Marker recalls how he worked, travelling around Russia on a train adapted to be a mobile movie studio, filming Soviet life with a view towards authenticity, not propaganda. With Medvedkin’s name expunged from the history books, Marker’s tribute seeks to resurrect the memory of a man whose duty and creativity clashed in complex political times.