Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Manchester

Free online streaming and panel discussion with Q&A: The Commissar (Soviet Union 1967)

As part of the University of Manchester’s film series Jews in the Eastern Bloc

7 April 2022, 17.45-21.00 BST

Aleksandr Askoldov’s topical Soviet film The Commissar (1967) is set during the Russian civil war in Ukraine, where a pregnant Red Army commissar stays with a Jewish family to give birth. Based on the Ukrainian-born Russian Jewish writer Vassiliy Grossman’s story In the Town of Berdichev, the film was among the rare productions of its era that featured Jewish protagonists and referenced the Holocaust in ways that subtly undermined the Soviet-state narrative of revolutionary heroism. The film and its director were immediately banned after Commissar’s completion and the film premiered internationally only at the 1988 Berlin Film Festival, when late Soviet Glasnost policies finally enabled its release.

The discussion panel, which will discuss the film as an important document of Russian and Ukrainian histories leading into the present, includes Joe Andrew, Emeritus Professor of Literature and Culture at Keele University; Marat Grinberg, Associate Professor of Russian and Humanities at Reed College, Portland; Elana Jakel, Program Manager, Initiative for the Study of Ukrainian Jewry at the United States Holocaust Museum; and Anna Shternshis, Al and Malka Green Professor of Yiddish and Diaspora Studies at the University of Toronto. The panel will be moderated by Cathy Gelbin, who is Professor of Film and German Studies at the University of Manchester. 

Register for this webinar in advance here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

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