Head of the Organising Committee
Sanna Turoma
sanna.turoma [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Coordinator
Kaarina Aitamurto
kaarina.aitamurto [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Secretary
Maarit Elo-Valente
maarit.elo-valente [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Intern
Miikka Piiroinen
miikka.piiroinen [at] helsinki.fi

Conference e-mail:
fcree-aleksconf [at] helsinki.fi

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)50-3565 802

aleksanteri [at] helsinki.fi


Past Aleksanteri Conferences

David McVey (University of Kansas, USA)

The Past Is Now: Pavel Lungin's Reflective Adaptation Homeland (2015)

For the first fifteen years of his directorial career, Pavel Lungin was viewed as a Western-leaning filmmaker, whose works were antagonistic toward mainstream Russian society and the Russian state. But with The Island in 2006, his films took a conservative turn, evincing greater sympathy toward elements of Russian culture, if not state power. Lungin's signature of the notorious 2014 Ministry of Culture letter in support of the annexation of Crimea seemed to consummate the director's chauvinistic alignment with all things Russian, including the Putin regime. Indeed, Lungin's most recent project, Homeland (2015), was filmed on the government's tab for government-owned Channel One. Critics have taken note. On a roundtable with Lungin on the TV Dozhd' program Hard Day's Night, Viktor Matizen impugned Homeland's integrity for featuring a "made-to-order protagonist" designed to flatter the Kremlin and the FSB. Nevertheless, Lungin insists the series, inspired by Israeli and American predecessors [Prisoners of War (2010-12) and Homeland (2011-present)], is no paean to the government. The story begins in 1999 during the Second Chechen War. It is tempting to conclude that the series' chronology during Putin's ascent to power belies Lungin's sycophancy to the Kremlin. However, the past-oriented narrative actually comports with a trend Lungin initiated with The Island. His finger ever on Russia's tremulous social pulse, Lungin has taken to reflecting on contemporary questions at a temporal or geographical distance by considering erstwhile eras or places of crisis. The proposed paper gives Lungin the benefit of the doubt. Homeland, regardless of its critical reception, demonstrates that today's Russian cinematographers can craft thought-provoking narratives whilst working within the tightly cordoned content boundaries of Russia's increasingly state-monopolized media.