[Moscow]: Tea-kino-pechat’, 1928 (tip. «Emes»). 85,  pp.: ill. 17.2x13 cm. In original publisher’s photo-montage wrappers. Loss of the pieces of the spine. Otherwise in a very good condition.
Edited by E. Ugarova. Foreword by Pistrak.
Scarce. First edition. 1 of 5,000 copies. Photo-montage wrappers by one of the leading representatives of the Constructivist branch of Russian avant-garde Varvara Stepanova (1894-1958). She designed Cubo-Futurist work for several artists’ books, and studied under Jean Metzinger at Académie de La Palette, an art academy where the painters André Dunoyer de Segonzac and Henri Le Fauconnier also taught. In the years following the revolution, Stepanova involved herself in poetry, philosophy, painting, graphic art, stage scenery construction, and textile and clothing designs. Together with her husband, Alexander Rodchenko (1891-1956), Varvara rejected aesthetic values in favour of revolutionary ones and went down in history as one of the most prominent figures in Russian avant-garde.
The 1920s was a pivotal point in the history of Soviet film industry: the decision to import foreign movies into the Soviet Union resulted in Hollywood completely taking over the Soviet market. In 1928, when Joseph Stalin abandoned the New Economic Policy with the Great Break, the Soviets launched a massive campaign to undermine the hegemony of foreign movies in the USSR.
This book, published at the dawn of the NEP abandonment, represents an interesting example of the Soviet fight against Western film industry. The edition was compiled by L. Keylyna and the famous Latvian actress and theater director Anna Latsis (1891-1979). In the book, the authors concentrate upon the connection between movies and children and underline the necessity of reorganizing the film industry for youngsters. In this regard, Latsis and Keylyna set off three main issues: the problem of repertoire, which often propagated violence and eroticism, the issue of lobbies, which neglected the needs of children and contained such bad influences as foxtrot, and advertising, which according to the authors, represented a powerful instrument of erotic agitprop. The edition consists of four sections: The Problem of Children’s Cinema, Shift in the Issue of Serving Children with Movie Screenings throughout the Union, Cinema as a Visual Aid in School, and Extracurricular Activities Involving Cinema. Latsis and Keylyna provide an interesting table of the repertoire of “Arbatsky Kino-Ars” (Moscow) for February 1928 and compare the number of screened Soviet (7) and foreign movies (22). The authors highlight the bad influence Western films had on the nervous system of Soviet children, transforming them into criminals and arousing “unhealthy desires to become movie actors.” As proof, Latsis and Keylyna cite several excerpts from Soviet newspapers: “A 6-year-old child was strangled by a teenager. He borrowed the strangulation technique from the movie ‘Tess of the Storm Country’ (1922),” etc. The authors also bring results of an interesting survey conducted in Krasnoyarsk, according to which quite a few of the girls answered the question “What has cinema taught you?” by saying: “[That] I would like to marry Harry Piel.” The book addresses the necessity of creating special movie repertoire for children and providing instructions for pedagogs at schools. Latsis and Keylyna state that “cinema has the ability to alter globuses, maps, diagrams, etc., in classrooms” and offer a list of topics with corresponding movies that teachers can use as a part of the teaching process: industrialization and militarization of the country, the history of revolutionary activity, civil war, political campaigns, the October revolution, etc. The authors also review means of organizing matinees and provide detailed guidelines for their implementation. Interestingly, the edition features an approximate diagram of the pedagogical study of materials in connection with the showing of a film to children, with the indication of activities to be undertaken in the lobby, at the screening, etc. The book also features a list of movies recommended for children: Battleship Potemkin (Sergey Eisenstein; 1926), The Red Army on the Guard of the USSR (Petr Malakhov; 1927), etc.
The edition includes 7 black-and-white illustrations showing stills from Van’ka and the “Avenger” (Axel Lundin, 1928), Golden Honey (Vladimir Petrov; Nikolay Beresnev, 1928), etc.
Overall, an interesting document of the newly-declared war to the Western movie industry.
Worldcat shows copies of the edition at Library of Congress, University of Virginia, Getty Research Institute, and University of Southern California.