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Victoria Elizarova
Doctoral candidate, third cohort (2023-2026)

Cinema on Wheels: Rural Film Distribution and Exhibition in ’20-30s Ussr

The spread of cinema (cinefication) in rural territories of the USSR emerged during the Civil War as a response to the territorial expansion, and later became a significant part of the political enlightenment project. The instructional function of cinema was expected to replace the entertaining one, and, for this purpose, film show was preceded by kulturfilms and framed with oral practices: lectures, commentary, and discussions. The spatial transformations of the film show, caused by usage of mobile units and establishment of new cultural institutions, embedded cinema in everyday life, asking the spectator to transfer the experience of the seen world to the real world. That change manifested itself through opposition to bourgeois urban cinema-going, being cinema-coming (Damiens 2023).

Using a semio-pragmatic approach the dissertation explores kulturfilms distributed in rural lands within an institutional framework: practices surrounding film show and forming a space of communication (Odin 2022); and spatial transformation of dispositive. It aims to investigate modes of production of meaning as well as modes of reading.

Fig. 1:
Sketch for Design proposal for a hut with a reading room and descending screen, (Anton Lavinsky, 1925), Togdazine.
Fig. 2:
Mobile unit of Sovkino on the route from the village of Taseevo to the city of Kansk (1927), Taseevsky Museum of Local Lore.
Fig. 3:
Mobile cinema in the village of Korpikovo, Gatchina (1930s), Gatchinskaya Pravda.


Victoria Elizarova is a PhD candidate at the graduate program “Configurations of Film” at Goethe University, Frankfurt. She received her B.A. and M.A. in Film Studies from Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography VGIK, Moscow. She worked as research assistant in film archive Gosfilmofond of Russia, acting as curator of film collection. She contributed as programmer and selector to the number of festivals. Her research interests include film cultures, post-colonialism as well as amateur and non-theatrical film forms.