10 Essential Russian Films

A box set containing three early works from Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov arrives on Blu-ray (with two films on DVD) today from Cinema Guild. The masterworks include the poetic Whispering Pages (using Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment as its main inspiration), the aural Stone, and a surreal retelling of Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, 1990’s Save and Protect. Sokurov has had a prolific career, admired by everyone from Susan Sontag to Darren Aronofsky. Even Vladimir Putin helped to fund Sokurov’s 2011 Cannes Golden Lion winner, Faust, which was surprising considering the director’s history depicting Russian leaders in a less than flattering light. In celebration of this rare Sokurov release, we wanted to explore other essential Russian films. Here are ten from us. Share what movies you would add to the list, below. … Read More

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Two Pussy Riot Members Flee Russia

After Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Mariya Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich were sentenced to two years in prison for their punk prayer performance at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Church, two other members of the Russian feminist punk-rock group have fled the country. “In connection with the search, our two participants have successfully left the country!… Read More

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Fascinating Found Photos of the Soviet Union During WWII

There’s a strange and disconcerting back story to this found album of vintage photographs from the Soviet Union in the 1940s. We see the strife of war, from the ruins of a city on fire to military vehicles rattling down rural roads, all captured from the enemy’s point of view by an anonymous German solider serving under General Heinz Guderian in World War II. We witness villagers curiously, studiously photographed in their rags, mesmerizing pastoral scenes of snow-gusted fields, and a motorcycle speeding down a winding path lined with birch trees — images that are at once stunning and uncomfortable, given their context. Found by English Russia on LiveJournal, check out a small sampling, and see what you think. … Read More

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Russia’s Bizarre “Save the Hipsters” Campaign

It figures: Just as the word “hipster” is falling out of favor (or, at the very least, becoming utterly meaningless) in US cities, it’s all over Russia. Design Taxi brings to our attention “Save the Hipsters,” a campaign launched by the website It’s My City to protect “representatives of the dominant subculture” from thuggish Chavs in Ekaterinburg. As far as we can tell from the English-language video below, the project mostly involved displaying confusing pro-hipster banners during a military parade but somehow led to a 75% drop in the city’s street fights — not to mention attracting a lot of media attention that drove traffic to It’s My City. Unfortunately, we don’t know quite enough about Russian pop culture to determine whether “Save the Hipsters” is a run-of-the-mill publicity stunt, an ironic publicity stunt, a legitimate attempt to solve what is apparently a big problem over there, or some combination of those things. Give us your best guess in the comments. … Read More

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Photos of Old Russian Ladies Guarding Their Favorite Artworks

In Russian art museums, women can frequently be found sitting vigil among the sculptures and paintings — but often, they’re not employed by the museum. They just want to be around their favorite works of art, guarding them from any possible harm in the process. As photographer Andy Freeberg writes, “When you look at the paintings and sculptures, the presence of the women becomes an inherent part of viewing the artwork itself. I found the guards as intriguing to observe as the pieces they watch over… A woman in Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery Museum said she often returns there on her day off to sit in front of a painting that reminds her of her childhood home. Another guard travels three hours each day to work, since at home she would just sit on her porch and complain about her illnesses, ‘as old women do.'” Freeberg took it upon himself to photograph these fascinating ladies in a series entitled Guardians, which we recently spotted over at My Modern Met. Click through to see some of our favorites from the series, and then head to Freeberg’s website to check out even more of his work. … Read More

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Surprisingly Fabulous Russian Army Fashions of the 1890s

You can fight, soldier man, but can you fight in a foot tall fur hat and a snappy outfit strung with tassels? Or a winged golden helmet and some casually draped suspenders? This 1892 photo album from Bibliothèque Nationale rustled up by the Rio Wang blog is fascinating. Who knew that future Czar Nicolas II was such a fox? With the Revolution still deep in the future, the Russian Empire army was undergoing a large-scale modernization, giving plenty excuses to pose in neat rows with their horses and fancy cannons. And, of course, those uniforms! See a few of our favorites in our gallery. … Read More

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What’s On at Flavorpill: The Links That Made the Rounds in Our Office

Today at Flavorpill, we listened to a surprising good acoustic cover of Sisqó’s “Thong Song” by Ghost of Patrick Swayze. We teased our hair sky high before reading up on the history of Dallas. We took some sound advice. We pondered heading west for this exhibition about San Francisco and cinema.… Read More

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Russian Wedding Photoshop Disasters

Welcome to the magical land of extreme Russian wedding photos. Prepare yourself for Photoshoppery of head-aching proportions. Witness the wing-sprouting brides and multiplied grooms in inexplicable psychedelic scenarios. Because if there’s anything better than a bride inside a rose, it’s seven brides inside a rose bush. It’s a non-ironic tradition of sorts! The origins of this particular series can be traced to the English Russia blog, but most likely is sourced from the Russian LiveJournal blogosphere, somewhere near neighborhood of those creepy, dangerous playground photos. Enjoy. … Read More

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Crowdsourced Photos of Russia's Creepiest, Most Dangerous Playgrounds

From the self-deprecating domain of the Russian blogosphere that brought you incredibly bootleg movie posters, we present: the horrors from the LiveJournal community “Dedicated to Maniac Psycho Sculptors.” It’s a hub for dumping photos of children’s playgrounds that are more than a little bit… off — perilous swings, rusty slides, cavernous ditches, and, more importantly, the creepiest public sculptures you’ve ever seen. They are decapitated, shattered, and laden with inappropriate graffiti. Some are just dangerous. Some are accidentally suggestive. Some are terrible, decades-old works of folk art carved from tree stumps, now smiling with rotting, termite-gnarled mouths and otherwise looking less than approachable. They are all curious specimens of found art. Or maybe they’re just terrifying. Check out the worst of the worst and decide for yourself. … Read More

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A Voyeuristic Look Inside Swinger and Fetish Clubs

Austrian-born photographer Reiner Riedler has traveled the world documenting what he calls “the fragile beauty of human existence with its desires and abysses.” In his series Pleasure Garden, Riedler ventured into the swinger and fetish clubs of Austria, Germany, and Japan, an artificial world that he found fascinating due to its “glaring hyper-reality.” The vivid photos that he captured range from rather tame shots of empty rooms to more provocative images of men and women in a variety of costumes, seemingly caught mid-act.

“Taking photographs in locations where sexual practices take place is not always a simple matter,” he writes. “I had to unequivocally distance myself from the role of the voyeur—being in places where photography is equated with pornography.” Click through for your own fascinating, NSFW glimpse of the underground world that Riedler discovered. … Read More

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