Filmmakers have always been fascinated with children as objects of cinematic attention. Throughout the history of film, from the early works by Lumière Brothers, such as Watering the Gardenerand Breakfast with Baby (1895), until the most recent projects, such as A Story of Children and Film by Mark Cousins (2013), children have always occupied a very special place on a movie screen.
Russian, Soviet, and Post-Soviet cinema is no exception to the rule. Having been exposed to this great cinematic tradition as a child myself, I have always wanted to explore different ways in which film envisions and stages childhood on the screen. Working on this film series allowed me to look closer at films depicting children as protagonists (but not necessarily at “children’s films”) by such filmmakers as Herz Frank and Andrei Tarkovsky, Andrei Zvyagintsev and Pavel Chukhrai, et al., from the 1960s until early 2000s. These films have been chosen not only because of the subject, but also because most of them complicate the image of a child and develop innovative cinematic languages to tell a child’s story. These films tell us stories about loss and survival, about strength and beauty, about mourning and the absence of a parent, about friendship and love, about memory and sacrifice, about perception and experience of time. They raise questions about responsibility and understanding, and they show a network of relations, which children enter in their encounter with the world of adults.
- Natalia Klimova (Princeton University Slavic Ph.D candidate)