From the Tsars to the Stars
Russian Fantastic Cinema

October 30 - December 13, 2015

Wind demons and crystal palaces... Shimmering aquatic gill-men and limitless vistas of outer space... For over eight decades Russian cinema has had an inspired filmmaking tradition that encompasses science fiction, folkloric fantasy, and absurdist humor, producing wildly entertaining films. Pera Film in collaboration with Seagull Films presents From the Tsars to the Stars: Russian Fantastic Cinema, a program featuring rare films from the Russian cinema’s long tradition of fantastical science fiction.

“Fantastika is a general term we’re using for all of it: science fiction, fantasy, horror, fables,” says Robert Skotak, co-conceiver of the series and an Oscar winner for his special-effects contributions to Aliens and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. “I mean, Cosmic Voyage [1936], which hasn’t really been seen in the West whatsoever, is a heroic tale of a Communist society traveling to the moon! It was made during Stalin’s purges and the push to modernize. But it’s also as accurate a picture of space travel as one could conjecture at the time. Fanciful sequences of stop-motion animation, extravagant effects: This is an entertaining movie!”

Beginning with the pioneering animation of Ladislaw Starewicz, through the silent classic Aelita: Queen of Mars, and on to the astonishing visions of Aleksandr Ptushko and Pavel Klushantsev, Russian genre cinema was amazingly colorful, technologically advanced, and thematically ambitious. Master Andrei Tarkovsky took this further, fashioning the highly philosophical and feverishly cinematic sci-fi epics Solaris and Stalker. Still other films, such as Karen Shakhnazarov's remarkable, black comic meditation on Soviet history during the Perestroika era Zero City and Alexei Fedorchenko's First on the Moon, are crafty allegories of an ideological system in its waning days.

Years before Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, Soviet visual-effects artists were creating breathtaking visions of humankind's voyage to outer space. In retrospect, an added fascination of these films is the Soviet party line suffusing fictive space exploration with a real-world mission—to bring the revolution, at least figuratively, to the solar system and beyond.

From the Tsars to the Stars: Russian Fantastik Cinema was originally presented in 2006 by Seagull Films, the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the American Cinematheque in collaboration with Concern Mosfilm, Russian State Archive Gosfilmofond and M-Film Studio. The program is curated by Alla Verlotsky, Robert Skotak and Dennis Bartok.


In collaboration with

October 30

20:00 Aelita, Queen of Mars

October 31

14:00 The Amphibian Man

November 7

19:00 To the Stars by Hard Ways

November 8

16:00 Aelita, Queen of Mars

18:00 The Amphibian Man

November 11

17:00 Planet of Storms

November 14

19:00 Solaris

November 21

19:00 First on the Moon

November 22

16:00 Planet of Storms

18:00 To the Stars by Hard Ways

November 28

15:00 Solaris

18:00 Stalker

December 9

19:00 Zero City

December 12

19:00 Stalker

December 13

14:00 Zero City

16:00 First on the Moon

Aelita, Queen of Mars

Aelita, Queen of Mars

Planet of Storms

Planet of Storms

The Amphibian Man

The Amphibian Man

Solaris

Solaris

Stalker

Stalker

To the Stars by Hard Ways

To the Stars by Hard Ways

Zero City

Zero City

First on the Moon

First on the Moon

Program Trailer

From the Tsars to the Stars
Russian Fantastic Cinema

Pera Film in collaboration with Seagull Films presents From the Tsars to the Stars: Russian Fantastic Cinema, a program featuring rare films from the Russian cinema’s long tradition of fantastical science fiction.

Girl in a Blue Dress

Girl in a Blue Dress

This life-size portrait of a girl is a fine example of the British art of portrait painting in the early 18th century. The child is shown posing on a terrace, which is enclosed at the right foreground by the plinth of a pillar; the background is mainly filled with trees and shrubs. 

The Success of an Artist

The Success of an Artist

Pera Museum presents an exhibition of French artist Félix Ziem, one of the most original landscape painters of the 19th century. The exhibition Wanderer on the Sea of Light presents Ziem as an artist who left his mark on 19th century painting and who is mostly known for his paintings of Istanbul and Venice, where the city and the sea are intertwined.

Serpent Head

Serpent Head

The Greek god Apollo and his son Asklepios presided over the realm of medicine and healing. Apollo was also the god of light and sun, whose solar symbolism and association with medicine would become linked to Christ the Physician, and the resurrected.