Russia has some of the most outstanding collections of film archive. The documentary film collection is housed at Krasnogorsk which is a small town just outside Moscow. I remember my first trip to Krasnogorsk where I was able to acquire archive footage for many of my films including Rodchenko and the Russian Avant-garde and Meyerhold Theatre and the Russian Theatre.
The system is straight forward and everything is delivered on a format of your choosing. Once you get the material up on the moviola and run it through its one of the most extraordinary feelings to see this material from maybe 80 years ago coming alive in front of your eyes. Films by Ziggy Vertov, “Man with Film Camera”, Eisenstein, “Battleship Potemkin” and Esfir Shub who directed “The Fall of The Romanovs” in 1927. She was a pioneer in the genre of compilation film, in the use of historical footage, and in recreating historical scenes in order to shoot new footage.
Many of my film making friends in Russia who hail from the soviet time are forever extolling the virtues of film, they talk about the smell, the feel and the sheer tactile sensation of handling celluloid. Even though I have grown up using tape and and now digital, when you first open those cans and get to handle original material its a magnificent feeling and a powerful sensation of participating in a rich history.
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