Turning Back the Waves

To see the trailer on IMDB, visit this Turning Back the Waves link. 


Turning Back the Waves: Women of the Russian  Intelligentsia. 

   "I knew I was unfree, but I allowed myself to think freely. I didn't have any ideological constraints." As one of the first lines of this ethnographic film articulated by Malva Landa, a prominent Moscow dissident of the Brezhnev era, this statement expresses Malva’s contentions about contemporary life in Russia in light of her memories of the Soviet past. Through filmed interviews, seven Moscow women belonging to the creative, professional or dissident intelligentsia remember certain periods of their lives in correlation with major events in the history of the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation. The participants retrace their history prior to the Russian Revolution of 1917, and detail their childhoods in the Bolshevik state. They evoke images of their youth during collectivization, industrialization and the Second World War; remember their emerging professional lives during "The Thaw," and their family lives during Leonid Brezhnev's era of stagnation. The film's narrative culminates during the period of the perestroika and the collapse of the Soviet Union as a conflictual moment in the lives of many members of the intelligentsia. As an exploration of the boundaries of ethnographic filmmaking, this film uses visual metaphors as a method to instigate interpretations of the narrative material and create a dialogue among the filmmaker, the participants and a wider audience. The visual thesis highlights oftentimes-conflictual narratives in order to reinforce the relevance of the critical participation of the women of the Russian intelligentsia in present-day Russia. In Russian with English subtitles. 90 minutes.

Press Kit 

Presentation at the American Anthropological Association 

(Philadelphia, 2009):