Zemlya/Earth (1930) is an iconic silent film by Ukrainian director Oleksandr Dovzhenko. It was named one of the 10 greatest films of all time by the International Film Critics Symposium. However, in the Soviet Union, Earth was banned nine days after its original release and celebrated only after Dovzhenko’s death in 1956.
The film depicts a harmonious world in which farmers lead a happy and timeless life until their peace is disturbed by collectivization – the Soviet policy of expropriating land from private owners. Some peasants comply voluntarily while others are forced to give up their property for communal use on collective farms. The drama unfolds as a conflict between peasants who support collectivization and kurkuli, a contemptuous label given by the authorities to describe the wealthy and influential peasants who oppose it.
By 1932, two years after the film was made, the official policy of forced collectivization caused famine and mass starvation known as Holodomor, killing more than five million Ukrainians. The peasants who became hostile to the totalitarian regime had all of their food confiscated by the authorities.
Earth is Dovzhenko's prayer to nature, the land, and those who work on it. The earth becomes a metaphor for the national space, the identity and survival of the Ukrainian people. Dovzhenko’s epic editing style intercuts beautiful footage of Ukrainian landscapes with closeups of several generations of Ukrainian peasants, conveying their views on life, death, change, progress, the church, and religion.
Written and directed by Oleksandr Dovzhenko.
Original soundtrack by Ukrainian world-music quartet DakhaBrakha.
Duration: 89 min.
Suggested donation $10-20. All donated funds will be transferred to the Ukrainian Volunteer Medical Battalion "Hospitallers".
July 20, 2022, 7.30pm
169 Bowery, New York, NY 10002
The screening is part of programming for Women at War, a group exhibition of leading Ukrainian artists responding to war. The exhibition will be on view prior to the screening.