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Amateur Filmmaking in the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic: Family, Nation, and Art (1955–1991)

Strupule, Inese; (2021) Amateur Filmmaking in the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic: Family, Nation, and Art (1955–1991). Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This dissertation is the first systematic study of the amateur filmmaking movement in Soviet Latvia. Largely sustained through a network of state-supported clubs, this movement spanned the period from the mid-1950s to 1991 and produced a highly diverse and inquisitive body of works ranging from documentary, newsreel, and educational to fictional, experimental, and animation films. Despite the fact that the films in question constitute a substantial part of the Latvian national film heritage and carry great historical, cultural, and socio-political significance, the legacy of the amateur filmmaking movement in Soviet Latvia has remained largely unexplored. Largely based on primary filmic sources held at the Latvian State Archive of Audio-visual Documents, this thesis constitutes an original scholarly contribution to our knowledge of amateur filmmaking culture in Soviet Latvia and the Soviet Union. It also endeavours to investigate this phenomenon within the context of the development of amateur film globally. This thesis references extant amateur films, archival printed documents, and a range of periodicals, both historical and contemporary, and includes interviews conducted with Latvian amateur filmmakers active during the Soviet era. It seeks to reconstruct the history of amateur-film culture in Soviet Latvia and to offer a conceptual model based on the importance of amateur film as an aesthetic and social phenomenon. Through a variety of thematic lenses, such as family, travel and tourism, social issues, political activism, and avant-garde experimentation, this thesis investigates the broad artistic, cultural, social, and political spaces within which amateur film functioned. It situates Soviet Latvian amateur cinema within dynamic reconsiderations of film as a medium, as well as defines it as a cultural phenomenon that reflects the alternative types of discourse, knowledge, and practices that emerged during the period of late Socialism. This thesis argues that amateur filmmaking in Soviet Latvia was often employed as a tool for developing strategies of national self-determination: despite the fact that Latvia was arguably the most Russified and Sovietized of the three Baltic republics, Latvian cine-enthusiasts managed to produce a thematically diverse and formally inventive body of amateur films, many of which exhibit grassroots national(ist) rhetoric. In the framework of this thesis, the case of the amateur filmmaking movement in the Latvian SSR demonstrates the regional diversity of cultural dynamics under state socialism, while being a unique case study in the sphere of amateur cinema.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Amateur Filmmaking in the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic: Family, Nation, and Art (1955–1991)
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10124566
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