Obskura film event: ASSA at Pushkin House
ASSA was the first large-scale state funded film project to creatively involve the members of the underground art and music scenes to such extent – underground artist Sergei “Afrika” Bugaev in the leading role, underground rock musician Boris Grebenshchikov as the film’s composer, and another underground rock musician Victor Tsoi and his group KINO as support actors and performers.
Ultimately, ASSA was responsible for bringing Soviet underground rock culture into the mainstream, as well as created an entirely new category of awe-inspiring cinematic hero – a Soviet rock film star. Apart from that, the film was premièred as part of the larger underground art and culture festival ‘Art-rok parad’ (‘Art-rock parade’), a 21-day arts marathon with concerts, exhibitions and performances. ASSA was the first film in the history of Soviet cinema to try out the new model of distribution and to be exhibited in such an unusual way.
The screening is part of Pushkin House’s ’30 Years of Change’ series, created by Vlad Strukov (University of Leeds) and Anna Kan (University of Bristol), that aims to remember and reflect on the legacy of perestroika and its relevance today, in Russia and internationally.
The film is in Russian with English subtitles by Obskura that were created specially for this event. The screening will be followed by a Q&A in English with Alexander and Anna Kans.
Alexander Kan is the BBC Russian Service Art and Culture Correspondent. He is the author of three books about the cultural underground in the Soviet Union (“Poka ne nachalsya Jazz” (2008), “Kuryokhin” (2012), “Pop-Mekhanika” (2014), as well as many articles in the Western and Russian media. He was a music critic, journalist and producer in Leningrad in the 1970s-1990s. Since 1996 he has lived in London and works as the BBC Russian Service Art and Culture Correspondent. He also continues to produce festivals and concerts in Russia and in the UK.
Anna Kan is an historian and a Researcher at the University of Bristol, focusing on the late Soviet underground culture and its relations with the state. In the 1990s-2000s she was a press officer for rock group Aquarium, a producer and publisher, organised many big concerts in Moscow and St. Petersburg and produced TV-films about Russian rock.