CfP: Soviet Film Studios at War, 1939-1949

Eisenstein Library (Moscow)International conference “Soviet Film Studios at War, 1939-1949”

Moscow, Russian Federation
June 12-13, 2014
Deadline for submitting abstracts: December 15, 2013

 The organizers are pleased to announce the International Conference on  “Soviet Film Studios at War, 1939-1949” which will take place in Moscow between June 12th and 13th 2014.

There is a consensus among historians that if is difficult to write about WWI and WWII without touching upon the war of images. However, Soviet history remains marginal in research on this aspect of the visual turn. It is necessary to renew the traditional vision of the propaganda art and go beyond the films representing Stalin and great historic events and explore the full spectrum of the production. Feature films, cartoons, educational pictures, newsreels and documentaries can be studied not only in themselves but also in terms of the public they addressed and their role in the mobilization for the war effort. Even though the cinema occupied a central place in Soviet propaganda, films must be compared to the news coverage, press photography, posters, literature and theater. A total history of the cinema should embrace issues which scholars usually study separately such as the institutions (the organization of new control agencies, the reorganization of the production far behind the frontline), the industry (technologies and economic problems), aesthetics and the social context (life in the evacuation).

The conference takes stock of the first results of the project CINESOV financed by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (France). The project explores Soviet cinema not only as art but also as social sphere, production process, industrial establishment, business and as a problem of marketing and consuming images between 1939 and 1949. The main focus is on  the first stage of filmmaking, the production process, and more precisely on the functioning of the studios in the USSR and the territories it controlled in the immediate [prewar and?] postwar years. The aim of the conference is to study ways the Soviet structures of film production dealt with thee requirements and constraints of the war.

Eligible topics for the conference

The main questions are:

  • methods, sources, the results of previous research: how to seize the singularities of the studios in the context of the war, which are their common features?
  • institutional issues: the Sovietization of the studios in the territories annexed on the eve of the war; changes in legal statuses, organization and internal structures; censorship; shifts in the relationships between center and periphery; evacuation and return; the fate of studios in territories under nazi occupation; the Sovietization of nazified studios and the purge of collaborators.
  • economic and financial issues: the economic efficiency of the studios and their evaluation by moviemakers and decision makers; how we can draw the balance sheet today? what is the impact of the evacuation of the industry at large on the film industry and the production targets of the studios? how studios manage the scarcity of financial resources? How decides the priorities?
  • technological issues: which technologies are employed? what sort of technological changes are helped by the challenges of wartime cinema and the exchanges and seizures of material? how many equipments are at the disposal of the moviemakers? how is allocated the equipment acquired through the Lend-Lease operations and through the seizures? How technologies function at the studios transferred to Central Asia?
  • international issues: how to evaluate the comparison [?], the imitation, the collaboration and competition with allied and enemy industries? what is the production of the enemy in occupied Soviet territories, how it is organized? how knowhow is transferred in Soviet-occupied territories? how the Soviets establish control?
  • human resources: how is personnel allocated in the wake of the evacuation and the reorganization? who are the new managers of the studios? how the mobilization takes place, what role women play in it? how is organized the training of the newly recruited personnel? How are decided the salaries and other forms of payment? how daily life looks like in the evacuation, during the siege of Leningrad and other cities and after the return?

The conference is open to anyone doing research related to the main themes.

Guidelines for submission

The contributions must be unpublished and founded on original sources.  The conference languages are Russian, English and French. The deadline for sending the proposals is December 15, 2013. Authors of the selected projects will be informed in late January 2014.

The proposals must be in Russian, English or French. They must include:

  • the name, the home institution and the position of the applicant with his/her electronic address
  • a short presentation of the applicant’s researches with emphasis of their relevance to the themes of the conference
  • a vita
  • a résumé of maximum 500 words of the proposed paper.

The proposals must be addressed to Vanessa Voisin at . They can be formulated individually and as members of a projected panel.

The organizers will help participants to obtain Russian visa. They finance the stay, the meals of the participants and travel expenses if it proves possible.

Organizational Committee

Ekaterina Khokhlova (Eisenstein Library, Moscow), Serguey Kapterev (NII kinoiskusstva VGIK), Serguey Kudriashov (German Historical Institute in Moscow), Valérie Pozner (CNRS), Alexandre Sumpf (University of Strasbourg), Oleg Budnitskii (International Center for the History and Sociology of World War II and its Consequences, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow), Alain Blum (Center for Russian, Caucasian and East European Reasearch of the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, i.e. CERCEC), Vanessa Voisin (Franco-Russian Center for Studies in the Social Sciences), Juliette Denis (French Academic College in Moscou), Irina Tcherneva (University of Lille III).

Scientific Committee

Ekaterina Khokhlova (Eisenstein Library, Moscow), Serguey Kapterev (NII Kinoiskusstva VGIK), Oleg Budnitski (International Center for the History and Sociology of World War II and its Consequences), Jeremy Hicks (Queen Mary University, London), Petr Bagrov (Gosfilmofond of Russia), Hélène Mélat (Franco-Russian Center for Studies in the Social Sciences), Gabor Rittersporn (CNRS), Sophie Coeuré (University of Paris VII), Natacha Laurent (Cinémathèque of Toulouse), Nathalie Moine (CERCEC), Eric Aunoble (Geneva University), Thomas Chopard (CERCEC).


  • Eisenstein Library (Moscow)
  • Program CINESOV of the National Agency of Research, France
  • German Historical Institute (DHI), Moscow
  • International Center for the History and Sociology of World War II and its Consequences, National Research University Higher School of Economics (VSHE), Moscow

Information & contacts

Ms. Vanessa Voisin
International conference “Soviet Film Studios at War, 1939-1949”

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