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The Commissar: History, Context, Poetics – Marat Grinberg

March 21 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Filmed in 1967, but kept from release for twenty years, Alexander Askoldov’s The Commissar</i. is unquestionably one of the most important, complex, and paradoxical films of the post-war Soviet era, Based on a short story by Vasily Grossman, it tells of a female Red Army commissar who is forced to stay with a Jewish family near the frontlines of the battle between the Red and White Armies as she waits to give birth. The film drew the ire of censors for its frank portrayal of the violence faced by Russian Jews in the wake of the revolution. Marat Grinberg, the author of the first book on the film, will introduce its fascinating production and release history, the film’s diverse literary and cinematic contexts, and discuss its many-sided poetics of Jewishness, femininity, and the revolution.

Marat Grinberg is associate professor of Russian, Humanities and Comparative Literature at Reed College. Widely published in both scholarly and journalistic venues, his work investigates constructions and politics of Jewishness in literature and film. His most recent book is Aleksandr Askoldov: The Commissar (2016). He is also a co-editor of Woody on Rye: Jewishness in the Films and Plays of Woody Allen (2013). His most recent essays have appeared in the LA Review of Books, Cineaste, and others.

Co-sponsored by the UNC Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies, the UNC Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures, and the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies