These notes accompany the Dziga Vertov program, screening April 21, 22, and 23 in Theater 3.
Dziga Vertov (1896–1954) presents some unusual problems with regard to his inclusion in this series. If we define an “auteur” as a filmmaker with a vision who places the stamp of his personality on his work, that presumes that there is a discernible personality or way of looking at the world. While no one could possibly miss the fact that from a technical standpoint, Vertov was a great innovator and expander of the medium (a rival to D. W. Griffith, F. W. Murnau, Sergei Eisenstein, or Alfred Hitchcock), there is reason to question who this guy really was. We do know he was born Denis Arkadievitch Kaufman in what is now Poland (then part of the Czarist empire) and was the elder brother to two other distinguished filmmakers, Mikhail (cameraman on several Vertov films and later a director) and Boris Kaufman (cinematographer for Jean Vigo, Abel Gance, Elia Kazan, and Sidney Lumet).