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Postwar Soviet Cinema: Soviet Film Industry

Communist Party Leadership (Postwar Era)

First Secretary/General Secretary: Leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, typically also held other leadership positions such as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Chairman of the Presidium, etc.

  • Nikita Khrushchev – 1953-1964
  • Leonid Brezhnev – 1964-1982
  • Yuri Andropov – 1982-1984
  • Konstantin Chernenko – 1984-1985
  • Mikhail Gorbachev – 1985-1991    

Politburo/Presidium: Leading policy-making body, members elected by the Central Committee of the Communist Party.

Council of Ministers: Main administrative body; responsible for national defense, economic planning (incl. formulating 5-year plans), foreign relations, etc. Some examples:

  • Gosplan USSR (Responsible for formulating economic plans)
  • Ministry of Defense
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Ministry of Internal Affairs – MVD (incl. police)
  • Ministry of Information and Press
  • Ministry of Culture
  • KGB (operated parallel to other ministries)

Central Committee of the Communist Party: The governing body in the Soviet Union, though in practice it was not as powerful as the above institutions starting in the Stalin era and afterwards. The USSR had both main and republic-level Central Committees. The First Secretaries of the individual republics were effectively the governors of those republics.

Goskino

Goskino – State Film Committee
Also called GUK (Main Administration/Directorate for Cinema)

  • 1946: Ministry of Cinema
  • 1953: Renamed “GUK,” reported to newly created Ministry of Culture
  • 1963: Renamed Goskino, attached directly to the Council of Ministers as part of reorganization.
  • 1972: Goskino reorganized under Central Committee decree “About Measures for the Further Development of Soviet Cinematography.” Romanov replaced by Yermash as chair of Goskino.
  • 1976: Renamed "Committee on Filmmaking of the USSR."

Reports to:

  • Council of Ministers (general operations, esp. large-scale planning)
  • Central Committee of the Communist Party (on cultural/ideological issues)

Goskino Chairs / Industry Heads:

  • Ivan Bolshakov: 1939-1953 (Committee on Cinema Affairs, 1939-1946, Minister of Cinema, 1946-1953)
  • Ekaterina Furtseva: 1953-1963 (as Minister of Culture)
  • Alexei Romanov: 1963-1972
  • Filipp Yermash: 1972-1986
  • Alexander Kamshalov: 1986-1991

Some Responsibilities of Goskino:

  • Oversees all aspects of the Soviet film industry as a whole: production, distribution and exhibition.
  • Responsible for developing economic plans for the film industry, with the input of Gosplan (part of the Council of Ministers). Sets financial goals, allocates funds and resources to studios, sets film production targets, etc.
  • Approves “thematic plans” submitted by individual studios to produce a specific quantity and proportion of genres/topics of films (e.g., films marking the 20th anniversary of the end of World War II).
  •  Film censorship/content regulation through departments such as the Script Editorial-Board and Repertory Control.
  • Classifies films for distribution. Higher categories (esp. first category) have more & better prints struck, show in premium venues. Low category films have only limited distribution. Based on a combination of ideology and perceived market value.
  • Manages the Moscow International Film Festival and the All-Union Film Festival (held in different Soviet cities each year.)
  • Oversees film-related publications such as the journal Iskusstvo kino (The Art of Cinema) and Sovetskii ekran (The Soviet Screen).
  • Republic-Level Goskino committees (i.e., Goskino of Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia). Parallel organization to Goskino USSR, but oversaw film production within individual republics. Included separate Script Editorial Boards, etc.

Departments in Goskino  (Tentative list)      

1.       Main Administration for the Production of Feature Films

  • Script-Editorial Board: Reviews all scripts and finished feature films produced in the Soviet Union). Professional “Editors” (Redaktory) and trusted figures in the film industry approved the scripts. Played a critical role in the film censorship process, from the initial script to the finished film.

2.      Administration for the Production fo Popular-Science and Documentary Films     

3.      Main Administration for Cinefication and Distribution

  • Cinefication and Distribution: (“Cinefication”(Kinofikatsiia) = expansion and improvement of exhibition facilities)
  • Repertory Plans: booking films for theaters

3.      Administration of Cinema Techniques and Technology and the Film Manufacturing Industry

  • NIKFI (Cinema and Photo Scientific Research Institute):  Developed new technology, incl. film stocks and filming & projection equipment.
  • LIKI (Leningrad Institute of Cinema Engineers): another technological laboratory

4.      Administration for Personnel and Educational Institutions

  • VGIK (All-Union State Institute of Cinematography): world’s oldest and most well-established film school
  • Higher Two-Year Course for Script Writers and Film Directors (established 1970s)

4.       Repertory Control: controls what gets distributed, what is in the prints, etc. - de facto censorship body.

5.       External Relations: international affairs, staff includes KGB officer

  • Sovexportfilm: overseas distribution
  • Sovinform Film: International co-productions

6.       Administration for Records: handles all paperwork except for personnel files and sensitive matters such as banned films. (The latter are handled by a Special Section that reports directly to the Chair of Goskino.)

Other Departments/Organizations Administered by Goskino:

  • Advertising Factory: print publicity
  • VNII-Kinoiskusstva (All-Union Scientific Research Institute for Cinema): Film studies research center.
  • Giprokino (State Institute for the Construction of Motion Picture Theaters)
  • Gosfilmofond: State film archive (feature films), located in Belye Stolby

Union of Cinematographers

Union of Cinematographers (Filmmakers)

Trade union, established in 1965.  Membership was required to work in most (all?) fields in the film industry. In Moscow and the republics it maintained a House of Cinema (“Dom Kino”) which was a general meeting place and held film screenings, including films that were not readily available to the public.

Studios

Studios

Separate studios in the R.S.F.S.R. and other republics for feature films, documentaries, newsreel-chronicle, animation, popular science, TV films.

Some important departments included:

  • Script-Editorial Board: One “editor” (redaktor) assigned to oversee each film.
  • Artistic Council: made up of studio employees, Party members, local intelligentsia. Commented on scripts, rushes and finished films.
  • Creative Units: Separate production teams, found in larger studios such as Mosfilm (Moscow), Lenfilm (Leningrad) and Dovzhenko Film Studio (Kyiv, Ukraine).

Production Crew

Some core production crew memers:

Director-Producer (rezhisser-postanovshchik): the Director of the film. The leading creative figure of the production; develops the shooting script in consultation with the Artist-Producer (art director) and Chief Cameraman (director of photography), among other people.

Production Manager (direktor): responsible for the logistics of the production, including keeping the film within budget; negotiates agreements, etc.

Chief Cameraman (Glavnyi operator): essentially the same as the Director of Photography in Hollywood.

Artist-Producer (khudozhnik or khudozhnik-postanovshchik): essentially the same as the Art Director or Production Designer in Hollywood.

Sound Operator (zvukooperator): in charge of sound recording and engineering for a film.

Film Editor (montazher): not to be confused with the Editor (redaktor) who monitors the ideological and artistic quality of the script and finished product.

Sources

Babitsky, Paul, and John Rimberg. The Soviet Film Industry. New York: Published for the Research Program on the U.S.S.R. by Praeger, 1955.

Cohen, Louis Harris. The Cultural-Political Traditions and Developments of the Soviet Cinema, 1917-1972. New York: Arno Press, 1974. (Reprint of 1973 doctoral dissertation.)

Golovskoy, Valery S., and John Rimberg. Behind the Soviet Screen: The Motion-Picture Industry in the USSR, 1972-1982. Ann Arbor: Ardis, 1986.

Konoplev, B. N. Osnovy filʹmoproizvodstva. Moskva: Izd-vo "Iskusstvo", 1969.

БУТОВСКИЙ Яков, Светлана ЛИСИНА, Виктор ЛИСТОВ, Виктор МАТИЗЕН, Михаил ШКАЛИКОВ: История государственного управления кинематографом в СССР - Энциклопедия отечественного кино

Russian-Language Sources Online

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