About Kinonedelja

The Kinonedelja (Kino-Week) newsreels represent Dziga Vertov's first contribution to cinema. A total of 43 issues were produced between May 1918 and June 1919. Vertov joined the newsreel’s ranks as a secretary but by the fall of 1918 had taken on full responsibility for the series, defining the content and structure of each issue. In some cases, Vertov even personally directed the newsreels. An average issue usually ran to 180 meters and contained from 5 to upwards of 7 individual items. These included short actualities from the Civil War front lines, reports on rallies or portraits of notable activists and important officials.
Some of the best cameramen of the time worked on the newsreels including Aleksandr Lemberg, Aleksandr Levickij and Eduard Tissé (who was later to photograph all of Sergej Eisenstein's major works). Vertov would later re-use the footage they shot during this time in his feature-length films following the principle of his Kinoglaz concept.

The items are closely tied to the historical events of the time. A straight forward representation of everyday life and political manifestations during the Civil War are at the center of the 1918 issues. In the first issue of the series, Lenin and Lev Trockij already appear before the camera. Also making an appearance is Pavel Dybenko, the former hero of the revolution who had to stand before the Revolutionary Tribunal following his defeat in a battle against Germany.
Kinonedelja No. 23
In the issues that appeared in January and February 1919, Vertov often includes footage depicting day-to-day life in the Red Army. One example shows how massive snowfall limits their daily work and army operations. Funerals of local officials frequently form a part of the Kinonedelja newsreels, as do the effects of recent international events, such as a major protest in Kiev following the murder of the German Spartacists, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.

The survival status of the Kinonedelja newsreels today is somewhat precarious. According to film historian Aleksandr Derjabin, Vertov plundered several issues himself for footage for his first feature-length documentary film, Godovščina revoljucii (Anniversary of the Revolution) in November 1918. Later, Vladimir Gardin (then in-charge of the newsreel) forced Vertov to restore the "stolen" footage – something which he was able to carry out with only limited success. Some items were irretrievably lost and had to be subsitituted by alternative footage. Surviving Kinonedelja-related material is held by the RGALI in Moscow, RGAFKD in Krasnagorsk, the Swedish Film Institute in Stockholm, the Danish Film Institute in Copenhagen and the Austrian Film Museum – though additional material may still resurface in other international archives.

The Austrian Film Museum holds prints of 14 clearly identifiable issues of the Kinonedelja series. The source was the Swedish Film Institute, whose archivist Anna-Lena Wibom had rediscovered the newsreels in a collection on deposit from the Swedish Television in 1967. Aleksandra Kollontai, who was appointed Soviet ambassador to Norway in 1923, is believed to have been responsible for first bringing the Kinonedelja newsreels to Scandinavia, thus accounting for the fact that several of the prints contained Norwegian intertitles. The original Russian titles survived only in the form of short "flash titles". Full-length Russian intertitles were created in January 1996 by stretch-printing the flash titles. Around that same time, the Film Museum staged the first ever public screening of its Kinonedelja prints in Vienna. The event took place in the presence of Anna-Lena Wibom.

In addition to the films, the Austrian Film Museum holds several other Kinonedelja-related documents in its famed Dziga Vertov Collection. Among them are 52 photos of type-written title lists, each of which is available in both censored and uncensored versions. Footage depicting the likes of Lev Trockij, Lev Kamenev (the former Russian ambassador in Vienna) and Grigorij Zinov'ev was later removed from certain issues after the persons in question came into conflict with Stalin. The title lists were photographed in the 1970s by Rosemarie Ziegler at the Moscow apartment of Vertov's widow, Elizaveta Svilova, following the latter's express wishes.

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Autograph "Kino-nedelja 5-go nojabrja 1918, No. 23"