Cinematic collaboration leads to rare screening

Wednesday 19 October 2005

The recently established Department of Film Studies at the University of St Andrews has secured the showing of an avante- garde Russian masterpiece to local audiences next week. Three screenings of the previously heavily censored film will be shown over two nights in St Andrews and Dundee.

Described as ‘a film of remarkable beauty’, ‘The Commissar’ is about the fate of a woman, a commissar fighting the Red Army troops during the Soviet Revolution in 1917. She gives birth to a child but soon returns to the front. The film is based on the story “In theTown of Berdichev” by Vasilii Grossman.

The showings, two in St Andrews on Tuesday (NPH Cinema) and one in Dundee on Wednesday (DCA Cinema) will be rare screenings of the film in British cinemas. Professor Dina Iordanova, Head of Film Studies at St Andrews, was not only instrumental in bringing the film here, but managed to secure the attendance of the Director Alexander Askoldov, who has also agreed to take part in a Q&A after the screenings.

Dina said: “It is a truly remarkable film, beautifully shot, rendering images of the Russian Civil War with magnificent emotion, ultimately becoming a gripping meditative reflection on issues of life and death, faith and history, public and private, revolution and war.”

Made in 1967 with the original intention of celebrating the revolution’s 50th Anniversary, ‘The Commissar’ suffered heavily from censorship immediately after its production and during the years after its release. At the time of its making, it was almost immediately banned for ‘slandering the revolution’, effectively bringing the career of filmmaker Askoldov to a standstill.

During the ‘glasnost’ period of the mid-1980s, when most censored Soviet films were given a new lease of life, the film was still kept in the vaults. Eventually, the film was re-discovered in 1988, when it received a Special Jury Prize at the International Berlin Film Festival and became an international sensation.

‘The Commissar’ will be shown twice at the New Picture House Cinema, 117 North Street, St Andrews, on Tuesday, 25 October 2005 (5:55 pm and 8.30pm – the early screening will be followed by a Q and A session with the director).

On Wednesday, 26th October 2005 at 5:50 pm it will be shown at DCA Cinema, 152 Nethergate, Dundee. The screening will be followed by a Q and A session with the director.

Everyone welcome. Tickets at the door.

The screening was organised by the Department of Film Studies, University of St Andrews, in collaboration with the University’s Centre for Russian, Soviet, Central and Eastern European Studies.


Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews

Contact Gayle Cook, Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email gec3@st- Ref: The Commissar 201005.doc View the latest University press releases at

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