An open letter in defence of Moscow’s Museum of Cinema and its professional staff

Further to the letter to Dmitry Medvedev concerning Naum Kleiman we published last week, and on which we have now gathered close to 300 signatures, we received the following open letter to the Russian authorities from the Working Group on Cinema and Television (part of the Association for Slavic East European and Eurasian Studies).

Close to 180 signatures from film scholars, critics, and filmmakers from the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany and Russia are attached.


To: The President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, the Prime-Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev; and the Minister of Culture for Russia Vladimir Medinsky

We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned about the conflict that has arisen between the core staff of the Museum of Cinema and its newly appointed Director, Larisa Solonitsyna, a conflict that follows on the heels of a year-long attack on the museum and its founding Director, Naum Kleiman.

Under the leadership of Naum Kleiman, the Russian Museum of Cinema became a major repository of films, documents, and books recording the extraordinary history of one of the world’s greatest film traditions. Even after losing its building in 2005, the Museum staff continued to collect and preserve Russian film culture and to make that cultural available to the public. The Museum continues to sponsor public screenings and lectures. The Museum of Cinema has encouraged and educated many of the young filmmakers who are once again drawing international attention and praise to Russian cinema, continuing a long tradition of pioneering Russian filmmaking.

This is not the first time this remarkable institution has come under attack, and we are coming together once again to prevent the Museum of Cinema from disappearing forever. We are particularly concerned that the museum’s key collections, including its unique collection of Eisenstein’s books and objects, are threatened by the current conflict. The staff that Kleiman cultivated over the years is made up of the most experienced and professional curators, preservationists, and distributors.

Professionally, we are scholars of Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet cinema, television, and media, but personally, we are united by a common love for film culture and a deep gratitude towards the Museum of Cinema and its amazingly knowledgeable professional staff. The Russian Museum of Cinema and its staff should be commended for the enormous contribution it makes to Russian culture and history. Instead, the current conflict appears to be an effort to prevent the staff from doing its work – preserving and sharing Russian film culture. We hope that the current conflict will be resolved so that the existing staff can do the work of preserving and promoting Russian film culture – its traditions and its future – in Russia and around the world.

We call on public officials in charge to understand the contribution of the Museum to world cinema and to do everything possible to save this unique cultural institution and its professional staff. The current situation represents a tremendous blow to Russian culture, to film scholarship across the world, and to the country’s international reputation. We are calling on everyone capable of helping the museum – state, cultural and educational institutions, individuals and the media, inside Russia and beyond its borders – to help save this cultural treasure and preserve its dedicated, professional staff.

Lilya Kaganovsky, University of Illinois; President, Working Group on Cinema & Television
Joan Neuberger, The University of Texas at Austin
Masha Salazkina, Concordia University
Elena Stishova
Cineaste Magazine
Denise Youngblood, University of Vermont
Nancy Condee, University of Pittsburgh
Vladimir Padunov, University of Pittsburgh
Ian Christie, Birkbeck College
Galya Diment, University of Washington
Birgit Menzel, University of Mainz (Germany)
Alyssa DeBlasio, Dickinson College
John MacKay, Yale University
Helena Goscilo, Ohio State University
Valery Golovskoy, Queens College
Susan Larsen, Cambridge University
Anthony Anemone, The New School
Daria Shembel, San Diego State University
Elena Prokhorova, College of William and Mary
Erika Wolf, Otago University
Vida Johnson, Tufts University
James Steffen, Emory University
Natalie Kononenko, University of Alberta
Alexander Prokhorov, College of William and Mary
Seth Graham, University College, London
David Bordwell, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Lea Jacobs, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Maria Belodubrovskaya, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Vincent Bohlinger, Rhode Island College
Natalia Ryabchikova, VGIK/University of Pittsburgh
Joan Titus, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Kevin Bartig, Michigan State University
Ana Olenina, University of North Carolina Wilmington
Rachel Morley, University College London
Emma Widdis, University of Cambridge
Stephen Norris, Miami University (OH)
Sarah Clovis Bishop, Willamette University
Raisa Sidenova, Yale University
Gerald McCausland, University of Pittsburgh
Michael Brewer, University of Arizona
Olga Klimova, University of Pittsburgh
Alexander Graham, University College London
Yuri Tsivian, University of Chicago
Elise Thorsen, University of Pittsburgh
Katya Vladimirov, Kennesaw State University, GA
Robert Crane, University of Pittsburgh
Julian Graffy, University College London
Hannah Frank, University of Chicago
Olga Blackledge, University of Pittsburgh
Susan Larsen, University of Cambridge
Andrew Chapman, Dartmouth College
Mihaela Mihailova, Yale University
John Freedman, Writer/Translator, Moscow
Beth Holmgren, Duke University
Oksana Chefranova, Visiting Fellow, Yale University
Greg Dolgopolov UNSW, Sydney, Australia
Vika Paranyuk, Yale University
Anastasia Kostina, Yale University
Allison Whitney, Texas Tech University
Irina Schulzki, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Anna Toropova, University of Cambridge
Natascha Drubek, Heisenberg Fellow
Kelly Trimble, University of Pittsburgh
Maria Vinogradova, New York University
Olga Kim, University of Pittsburgh
Laura Olson Osterman, University of Colorado, Boulder
Dusty Wilmes, Ohio State University
Joshua First, University of Mississippi
Vitaly Chernetsky, University of Kansas
Christine Evans, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
Natasha Kurchanova Independent scholar and curator
Giuliano Vivaldi, Independent Scholar and Writer on Film
Olena Dmytryk, University of Cambridge
Oksana Sarkisova, Central European University.
Eugenie Zvonkine, University of Paris 8, France
Alexandra Dementieva, artist, filmmaker, Brussels, Belgium
Justine Waddell, Trustee Kino Klassika
Dr. Mary Harrod, Warwick University
Dr Martha Shearer, King’s College London
Dr Chris Holiday, King’s College London
Steve Brown
Lisa Thompson
Michal Ohana-Cole
David Higgs
Ksenia Vashchenko
Charles Mather
Ester Catala-Pons
Dr Shelagh Rowan-Legg, King’s College London
Stefan Baker
Fabian Harris
Dr Lilly Husbands, King’s College London
Dr Victor Fan, King’s College London
Dr Belen Vidal, King’s College London
Patricia Sequire-Bras, Queen Mary
Tanya Shin
Dr Elisabetta Girelli, Saint Andrews
Dr Luke Robinson
Kulraj Phullar, King’s College London
Paul Carey
Susanna C Cohen
Scott Cohen
Evgeny Kazannik
Elena Castello
Dr John Riley
Zamir Gotta and Gotta Media
Desmond Giovsnni
Emilie Snellman
Joana Rafael
Kosuke Fujiki, King’s College London
Santa Lingeviciute
Paul Perkins
Alice Guilluy-Duchesne, King’s College London
Margarita Osepyan
Elisabetta Babinni
Dr Lawrence Webb, King’s College London
Dr Louis Bayman, Warwick University
Dr James Whitfield, King’s College London
Dr Lawrence Napper, King’s College London
Charles Rubinstein
Kira Zhigalina
Rasa Ceplauskaite
Dr Rory Rowan
Dr Sue Harris, Queen Mary London
Olia Hercules
Lee Hill
Elisabetta Fabrizzi
Nicoletta Perdikos
Anastasia Antonova
Dr Arron McCullen, King’s College London
Tom Kemplen
Nicola Kemplen
Barbara Wurm, Humboldt University, Berlin
Louis Menashe, Professor Emeritus, Polytechnic Institute of NYU and Associate Editor,
Milena Michalski, Kings College London
Sasha Dugdale, writer / editor, Sussex UK
Michele Leigh, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Virginia Brooks, Brooklyn College
Bella Ginzbursky-Blum, College of William and Mary
Diane P. Koenker, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Layla Alexander-Garrett , Independent Researcher
Andrei Rogatchevski, University of Tromsø (Norway)
Dr Philip Cavendish, University College London
Dr Jamie Miller, Independent Scholar
Ms Candyce Veal, University College London
Dr Alissa Timoshkina, King’s College London
Tim Harte, Bryn Mawr College
Justin Weir, Harvard University
Anne Eakin Moss, Johns Hopkins University
Jane Taubman, Amherst College
Mark Lipovetsky, University of Colorado-Boulder
Andrey Shcherbenok, Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO
Carol Ueland, Drew University
Elizabeth Papazian, University of Maryland
Valerie Anishchenkova, University of Maryland
Luka Arsenjuk, University of Maryland
Jonathan Auerbach, University of Maryland
Oliver Gaycken, University of Maryland
Jason Kuo, University of Maryland
Hester Baer, University of Maryland
Jeremy Hicks, Queen Mary College, University of London
Charters Wynn, University of Texas at Austin
Volha Isakava, Central Washington U.
Michael Nemirsky, Designer, Vancouver, Canada
Kristen Welsh, Hobart & William Smith Colleges
Erin Alpert Holmes, University of Pittsburgh
David Powelstock, Brandeis University
Gabrielle Chomentowski, Sciences Po, Paris
Boris Wolfson, Amherst College
Barry Scherr, Dartmouth College
Dr. Frederick Corney, The College of William & Mary
Katerina Clark, Yale University
Gregory Freidin, Stanford University
Marc Robinson, St. Olaf College
Victoria E. Bonnell, University of California at Berkeley
Caroline Eades, University of Maryland
Bruce Posner
David Shepard, Film Preservation Associates
Serge Bromberg, Lobster Films, Paris

November 3, 2014

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