Academia Rossica’s Russian Film Festival is in its 5th year and taking place in London till the 13th November.

Vitaly Mansky, Russia’s contemporary master of documentary film-making, has curated a selection of Russian documentaries by women and about women, and is also premiering his latest film shot in Cuba, Patria o Muerte, in the UK.

Mansky’s Transforming Reality masterclass at the festival gave much insight into the film-making process surrounding the film, highlighting the difficulties and frustrations faced in post-production editing due to the lack of preconceived structure in the film’s footage. The risk of such film-making, however, has evidently paid off, with the talk attracting an enthusiastic and involved audience with questions about the striking naturalistic essence of the film.

Techniques that led to this include the use of D-SLRs as video cameras, which the subjects perceived to be less intrusive or took to be mere photo cameras, the crew’s occasional exit of the scene with the video left capturing, and in part the emotionally open nature of the Cuban people (especially in the form of dance).


Mansky, whose favourite film is Dziga Vertov’s Man With A Movie Camera, treasures the documentary form not as a source of information but for the “transmission of feelings, emotions and some kind of conceptualisation of reality”. (Russian Mind)

He likens Russia’s current documentary market to the fast food industry, with many Russian TV channels producing thousands of hours of product undeserving of the documentary label. The McDonalds films.

His documentary festival in Moscow, ArtDocFest, along with the Kultura TV channel, continues to be one of the few platforms for the films that stray from all the grease.

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Reeling The Real is a new community dedicated to the discussion, promotion, and celebration of documentary film-making.

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