Kyiv: Vufku, 1928. 52 pp.: ill. 26x17.5 cm. In the original publisher’s wrappers. Tears of the spine and extremities, worn, decompressed Ukrainian library stamps and inventory numbers on the title-page, p.17, soiled wrappers. Otherwise good.
Scarce. First edition. 1 of 5,000 copies. Text in Ukrainian and French. With numerous black and white illustrations.
An extremely rare book promoting achievements of the Soviet Ukrainian cinematography.
On March 13, 1922, the Soviet government ordered the establishment of the All-Ukrainian Photo and Film Administration (VUFKU), which brought together all aspects of the film industry - film studios, film distribution, film education, and film press. For a short period of its existence (1922-1930) VUFKU released more than 140 feature films (of which about 60 works have been completely lost), several non-fiction films and newsreel magazines as well as dozens of animated cartoons.
From 1927, foreign viewers began to get acquainted with Ukrainian films, and regular publications about Ukrainian cinema appeared in the foreign press. Western colleagues advised Ukrainian filmmakers to focus on the world film market. In 1926, Ukraine became the second largest supplier of cinema products for Germany after the United States. In an effort to ensure that domestic films entered the international market, the management of VUFKU issued Album of Ukrainian Cinema as a kind of advertisement for cinematographic products: ‘‘By releasing this first album of Ukrainian cinema, we have the task to show the best that our cinema has’’.
The book opens with a short preface by VUFKU and is followed by the ‘‘Portraits of Ukrainian filmmakers and movie stills’’. In particular, the edition showcases the photographs of the directors A. Dovzhenko, G. Grischer, D. Vertov, P. Dolina, A. Lundin, A. Soloviev, G. Stabaviy, G. Tasin, M. Tereshchenko, P. Chardynin; artist V. Krichevsky; actors and actresses A. Buchma, M. Dusimetier, I. Zamychkovsky, Nina Li, N. Nademsky, P. Otava, S. Svashenko, Yu. Solntseva; operators D. Demutsky, B. Zavelev, M. Kaufman.
The album is supplemented with shots from the films Arsenal (1929) by A. Dovzhenko, Zvenigora (1928) by A. Dovzhenko, Odinadtsyaty [i.e. The Eleventh] (1928) by Dziga Vertov, Taras Shevchenko (1926) by P. Chardinin, Dva dnya [i.e. Two Days] (1927) by G. Stabovoy, Taras Tryasilo (1926) by P. Chardinin, Prodannyy appetit [i.e. Sold Appetite] (1928) by N. Okhlopkov and I. Rona, etc. Photos of films are accompanied by descriptions of creative teams and cast. Among the above-mentioned films, the French film critics received due attention to Arsenal, Zvenigora, Odinatsyatsy, Taras Tryasilo, and Prodannyy appetit. For example, Arsenal was highly appreciated by the French writer and journalist Henri Barbusse (1873-1935), who believed that the film ‘‘is close to the highest class of significant cinematographic creations’’. The album closes with three photographs of the construction of the VUFKU Kyiv Film Factory, which was built as the largest and most modern film studio in all of Europe.
In 1928, 13 films by the famous Ukrainian directors were purchased by the Pathe-Nord film company. From 1929, VUFKU started exporting its films to the USA, Germany, France, and Japan. In 1926, Sovkino received more than 1 million rubles from overseas distribution, VUFKU predicted: “One hundred films a year, albeit not fully used in the foreign market, will give Ukrainian cinematography several million in foreign currency” (Kino magazine, 1927, No. 18). The activity of VUFKU is a bright and at the same time tragic page of Ukrainian art. In November 1930, in spite of its success, VUFKU was reorganized into Ukrainefilm, subordinate to Soyuzkino, and a few years later, with the loss of economic independence, the institution ceased to exist.
Overall, an evidence of the short-term triumph of Soviet Ukrainian cinematography.
Worldcat shows copies of the edition at Harvard University, Museum of Modern Art, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Stanford University, Yale University, and Margaret Herrick Library.