In the 1960s, a wave of newly independent African states found themselves courted by a far-flung friend: the Soviet Union. Alexander Markov’s engrossing archival documentary, assembled from footage shot by Soviet crews between 1960 and 1990, charts the breadth of Moscow’s project to export socialism to the African continent. Red Africa threads dignitary visits, infrastructure projects, and Cold War–era cultural exchange into the excavation of a single soft-power machine, while also demonstrating the power of the cinematic image to propel myth-making at home up until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Closer afield, We Love Life, which opens the screening program, revisits propaganda and home movie footage of the Spartakiads, a mass sporting event held in communist Czechoslovakia from World War II to the Velvet Revolution. Through the film’s kaleidoscopic editing, its scores of synchronized bodies vibrate as a site where ideology, collective memory, and personal experience converge.
We Love Life. 2022. Great Britain. Directed by Hana Vojáčková. North American premiere . In Czech, Slovak, English; English subtitles. 29 min.
Krasnaya Afrika (Red Africa). 2022. Russia/Portugal. Written and directed by Alexander Markov. North American premiere . In Russian, Portuguese; English subtitles. 65 min.