Revolutionary Principles

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution, the history-defining movement that transformed Tsarist Russia and gave rise to the Soviet Union. Marking this centenary is a fascinating ten-day season of films and events at the Tyneside Cinema, in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, that runs until 8 October.

Curated by Úna Henry on behalf of Tyneside Cinema and a team of Durham scholars led by Dr. Dušan Radunovi?, What’s Left? A Century In Revolution is an examination of cinema’s engagement with wider movements and how the moving image and social action are inextricably bound together.  Allowing audiences to explore revolution in both the 20th and 21st Centuries, the stimulating choice of films includes a very special 35mm screening of October, Sergei Eisenstein’s 1927 classic, which will be accompanied by a live piano score performed by founder and artistic director of the Ives Ensemble, John Snijders.

Another film to be recommended is Pussy Vs Putin, a vibrant eyewitness account of the feminist rock/activist group Pussy Riot, both before and after the 2013 arrest of three of their members for hooliganism. Shot by collective Gogol’s Wives, the film captures guerrilla performances by the group known for both their anti-Putin views and their signature day-glo balaclavas. The season will also feature a new art film by the Russian political activist art collective Chto Delat? (What Is to Be Done?), entitled The New Deadline #17 Summer School of Orientation in Zapatism. Inspired by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), a revolutionary leftist political and militant group based in Mexico, the film performs an imaginary transposition of the Zapatista movement to Putin’s Russia.

Russia and the Soviet Union are not the only focus, with the season examining notions of revolution in Latin America, China, the Middle East and North Africa. These include the UK premiere of Esto Es Lo Que Hay – an intimate portrait of Los Aldeanos, Cuba’s most popular hip-hop outfit, whose work bears witness to the political and social upheaval in post-Castro society. Most intriguing is Peter Snowdon’s The Uprising, a film that grew from the director’s time in 2011 spent watching the Egyptian revolution unfold over social media. Made up entirely of footage shot by citizens and long-term residents of Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Syria and Yemen, it places viewers inside Arab revolutions in a non-linear fashion. People Power at its best.

James Mottram

What’s Left? A Century In Revolution runs until 8 October at the Tyneside Cinema. For more details, visit:

1. Still from My Father’s Choice, as part of What’s Left? A Century In Revolution. Courtesy of Tyneside Cinema.