The University of Chicago News Office
May 9, 2006 Press Contact: Josh Schonwald
(773) 702-6421

University of Chicago Film Studies Center preserves, premieres 1927 Soviet film


A photo still from the restored film, Peasant Women of Riazan

A recently recovered print of a rare 1927 Soviet film has been restored through funding from the Film Studies Center at the University of Chicago, and added to the center’s archive. The newly preserved print includes additional scenes missing from the version archived in Russia, and offers American viewers the unusual chance to see a film about Soviet women directed by a Soviet woman. The restored film, “Peasant Women of Riazan,” will premier at 8 p.m. Friday, May 19 at the Film Studies Center, 5811 S. Ellis Ave. in room 307 of Cobb Hall. The screening is free and open to the public, and includes an introduction by Yuri Tsivian, Professor in Art History and Cinema & Media Studies, and piano accompaniment by David Drazin.

“We didn’t choose the film, but this film chose us and now the University has the most complete copy of this film known,” Tsivian said. “This is an exciting movie and an exciting opportunity for film-lovers.”

Directed by Olga Preobrazhenkaya, “Peasant Women of Riazan” offers a look back at peasant culture and the emerging role of the new Soviet woman. Set against the backdrop of rural life in pre-revolutionary Russia, Anna and Wassilissa, young sisters-in-law, each marry the men they love (with or without their families’ approval) but their divergent futures are decided by the call of their husbands to war. As Wassilissa finds strength in her life directing a new orphanage, Anna must fend for herself when her lascivious father-in-law presses his advantage.

According to Tsivian, the film is a beautifully shot melodrama with engrossing scenes of rural life and customs. “It’s a visually interesting film, but it’s notable because it’s also a kind of feminist film,” he said. “It offers a powerful statement on the position of women in pre-revolutionary society. That’s why it’s known in the West — it is focused on women and offers a woman’s perspective of events.”

The Film Studies Center 35mm print was preserved from a French print found in a private collection by David Shepard of Film Preservation Associates.

[USSR, 1927, c. 80 mins, silent, French intertitles with live English translation, b&w, 35mm, Film Studies Center Collection]

For more information on this and other film events, members of the public may call (773) 702-8596 or visit the Film Studies Center’s Web site at
Last modified at 07:45 PM CST on Sunday, February 11, 2007.

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