Mikhail Kaufman’s 1929 silent documentary IN SPRING (Ukrainian: Навесні, translit. Navesni, Russian: Весной, translit. Vesnoi) is Soviet Ukraine’s answer to Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera. The two brothers and regular collaborators had fallen out over artistic differences in their approach to filmmaking. Strongly rhythmic and stylishly symmetrical, IN SPRING was made in accordance with the ideas of the avant-garde manifesto Kinoks and was Kaufman’s directorial debut.
Much in the same way as Man With a Movie Camera, the experimental film explores the gradual awakening of a new spring day after the snowy rigours of winter. The film opens in the countryside, as opposed to the urban setting of Man With A Movie Camera, and as ice begins to thaw, illustrated by a humorous image of a snowman’s black eyes streaming down his melting face, people, horses and carts begins to emerge as people preparing for a sunny day as one of the shops lays out the newspaper “Socialist emulation Bulletin” for the year 1929. Agricultural activities give way to the pounding of machines in an industrial landscape. In the city parks and gardens, trees are sprouting leaves and in the branches birds build nests, bees swarm around flowers, buds bloom directly beforre our eyes. People walk freely unencumbered by heavy winter clothing. Soviet sportsmanship features again with a May Day demonstration with flags, competitions, a football match at a packed stadium. Daredevil-bicyclist rides on a street while playing the harmonica; girls are dancing and children excising in regimented rows.
IN SPRING + Q&A with Stanislav Menzelevskyi | 7 June 2017
This event is made possible in partnership with the Ukrainian Institute in London and the Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre, Ukraine.