Cine Fantom

An essay on Russian Parallel Cinema by Olia Lialina (1996).


Russian Parallel Cinema is a unique tradition. It appeared in the Soviet Union in the beginning of the 80s and existed as if there were no strong system of official film. It appeared when world experimental film had 50 years history, but never gave a glance at it.

In the end of the 80s, Parallel Cinema came into fashion, as a part of underground culture. The next decade started with strong desire to bury it, as a part of perestroika fashion. Today the third generation of Parallel Cinema is active.

Very often trying to diversify my speeches about Parallel Cinema, I use "synonyms": Experimental, Independent, Alternative, Marginal, Low budget - one could think I make no difference. But the fact is that Parallel Cinema can be identified as the only Russian representative of all these categories. And it is never enough. You can't speak in general. You can"t mark out a common school, aesthetic, something that describes everything. You can't be lazy. It"s one quite narrow circle, but every time you want to explain what is Parallel Cinema, you couldn't miss any one.

The Parallel Cinema Archives grows in a non-academic way. Somebody asks you "Why I"m not mentioned?" and you include his works.

Social identification of the Parallel Cinema group of film and video(!!!) makers started in underground and close to CINE FANTOM (historically incorrect name) magazine, the first and only Russian independent self printed magazine devoted to cinema. It was founded in Moscow in 1986 by Igor Aleinikov and existed until 1991.

In 1987 the first CINE FANTOM festival was held in Moscow. Since 1995 the CINE FANTOM club exists. If you type you'll find the CINE FANTOM site. If you type in net search "Russian film", you'll find the CINE FANTOM site again.

Today, when 16mm film isn't produced in Russia any more, and there are no places for postproduction, artists use outdated remains and finish the work on video. So, many video films appear, made in mixed technique, speaking a mixed language.


Today, when it's impossible to make border between main stream and out of main stream, nobody prevents parallel film makers from thinking they do the first.


Natasha Drucbek-Meyer PARALLEL PHANTOME / Balagan, 1-95, Potsdam
Olga Lialina PARALLEL CINEMA A PROPER NAME / New Media Logia, 1994, Moscow
Olga Lialina DAS PARALLELE KINO / Via Regia, October, 1995, Erfurt

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