Talk: Larisa Shepitko in the Shadow of a New War

2.15PM Sun 10 Jul 2022 (45mins)
GOMA | Cinema A | Free


Join us for a fascinating lecture from Marko Pavlyshyn, Emeritus Professor of Ukrainian Studies at Monash University, who will discuss the legacy of Larisa Shepitko, the role of Ukrainian culture within the Soviet Union, and how the recent invasion of Ukraine re-shapes our understanding of these ideas. This talk is free and no bookings are required.


Momentous events of the present, especially if they are disorientating or terrifying, challenge us to re-examine the past and seek in it portents of what was to come. Thus Russia’s current war on Ukraine impels us to look anew at the history of the relationship between an expansionist, dominating Russia, core of a tsarist and, later, Soviet empire, and its subordinated non-Russian peripheries. This unequal relationship reached its fullest development in the post-Second World War Soviet Union, whose cultural system, including the cinema industry, was mobilised to express and promote it.

Such was the context in which Larisa Shepitko (1938-1979), born in Ukraine and educated as a film director in part under the tutelage of the Ukrainian cinematic icon Alexander Dovzhenko, became a notable and internationally revered figure of Soviet, but not Ukrainian, cinema. Reflecting on her oeuvre, especially her first and last films Heat and The Ascent, I consider how these works, for all their formal originality and elements of ideological nonconformism, nonetheless reinforce the notion of the dignity and pre-eminence of the Russian/Soviet centre within a political and cultural organism whose non-Russian fringes play at best a secondary, and at worst a suspect, role.


Marko Pavlyshyn is an emeritus professor of Ukrainian Studies at Monash University. He is the author of Ol’ha Kobylianska: Interpretations (Kharkiv, 2008), Canon and Iconostasis (Kyiv, 1997), both in Ukrainian, of translations from the Ukrainian into English of Yuri Andrukhovych’s Recreations (Edmonton, 1998) and Yuri Izdryk’s Wozzeck (Edmonton, 2006), and of more than 100 chapters in books and articles in scholarly journals, mainly on modern and contemporary Ukrainian literature and post-colonial approaches to its analysis. He has also worked in the field of contemporary European Studies and contributed public commentary on contemporary Ukrainian affairs. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and an International Member of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.