Conference on Soviet Film Studios at War, Moscow

Deadline: 15 December 2013
Open to: researchers worldwide investigating the main themes of the conference, which deal with ways Soviet filmmakers dealt with World War II
Venue: 12-13 June 2014 in Moscow, Russia


The organizers are pleased to announce the International Conference on “Soviet Film Studios at War, 1939-1949” which will take place in Moscow, Russia, between 12-13 June 2014The aim of the conference is to study ways the Soviet structures of film production dealt with the requirements and constraints of the war.

There is a consensus among historians that if is difficult to write about WWI and WWII without touching upon the war of images. However, Soviet history remains marginal in research on this aspect of the visual turn. It is necessary to renew the traditional vision of the propaganda art and go beyond the films representing Stalin and great historic events and explore the full spectrum of the production. Feature films, cartoons, educational pictures, newsreels and documentaries can be studied not only in themselves but also in terms of the public they addressed and their role in the mobilization for the war effort. Even though the cinema occupied a central place in Soviet propaganda, films must be compared to the news coverage, press photography, posters, literature and theater. A total history of the cinema should embrace issues which scholars usually study separately such as the institutions (the organization
of new control agencies, the reorganization of the production far behind the frontline), the industry (technologies and economic problems), aesthetics and the social context (life in the evacuation).

The conference takes stock of the first results of the project CINESOV financed by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (France). The project explores Soviet cinema not only as art but also as social sphere, production process, industrial establishment, business and as a problem of marketing and consuming images between 1939 and 1949. The main focus is on the first stage of filmmaking, the production process, and more precisely on the functioning of the studios in the USSR and the territories it controlled in the immediate [prewar and?] postwar years. 

The main questions are:

  • Methods, sources, the results of previous research: how to seize the singularities of the studios in the context of the war, which are their common features?
  • Institutional issues: the Sovietization of the studios in the territories annexed on the eve of the war; changes in legal statuses, organization and internal structures; censorship; shifts in the relationships between center and periphery; evacuation and return; the fate of studios in territories under Nazi occupation; the Sovietization of Nazified studios and the purge of collaborators.
  • Economic and financial issues: the economic efficiency of the studios and their evaluation by moviemakers and decision makers; how we can draw the balance sheet today? what is the impact of the evacuation of the industry at large on the film industry and the production targets of the studios? how studios manage the scarcity of financial resources? how did they decide the priorities?
  • Technological issues: which technologies are employed? what sort of technological changes are helped by the challenges of wartime cinema and the exchanges and seizures of material? how many equipments are at the disposal of the moviemakers? how is allocated the equipment acquired through the Lend-Lease operations and through the seizures? how technologies function at the studios transferred to Central Asia?
  • International issues: how to evaluate the comparison, the imitation, the collaboration and competition with allied and enemy industries? what is the production of the enemy in occupied Soviet territories, how it is organized? how know how is transferred in Soviet-occupied territories? how the Soviets establish control?
  • Human resources: how is personnel allocated in the wake of the evacuation and the reorganization? who are the new managers of the studios? how the mobilization takes place, what role women play in it? how is organized the training of the newly recruited personnel? how are decided the salaries and other forms of payment? how daily life looks like in the evacuation, during the siege of Leningrad and other cities and after the return?


The conference is open to anyone doing research related to the main themes listed above. The contributions must be unpublished and founded on original sources.

The conference languages are Russian, English and French.


The organizers will help participants to obtain Russian visa. They finance the stay, the meals of the participants and travel expenses if it proves possible.


The deadline for sending the proposals is 15 December 2013. Authors of the selected projects will be informed in late January 2014.

The proposals must be in Russian, English or French. They must include

  1. the name, the home institution and the position of the applicant with his/her electronic address
  2. a short presentation of the applicant’s researches with emphasis of their relevance to the themes of the conference
  3. a curriculum vita
  4. a résumé of maximum 500 words of the proposed paper.

The proposals must be addressed to Vanessa Voisin at They can be formulated individually and as members of a projected panel.

For more information, you may refer to the websites of the organizers linked below:

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