Berlin Festival Gives 2012 Retrospective to Legendary Russian Film Studio Mezhrabpom

The studio and its German outlet Prometheus were pioneers in experimental cinema before being shut down by Hitler and Stalin.

COLOGNE, Germany – The Berlin Film Festival is reaching back deep into European film history for its 2012 Retrospective on legendary Russian-German film studio Mezhrabpom-Film.

Mezhrabpom, called the “Red Dream Factory” was a joint venture set up in 1922 by Russian producer Moisei Aleinikov and German communist Willi Munzenberg. Headquartered in Moscow and Berlin, it produced some 600 films between 1922-1936 including the first science fiction film, the first sound film and the first color film made under the Soviet system. Many of the studio’s classic titles, thought lost, were recently rediscovered in Russian archives and will be unspooled at the 62nd Berlin Film Festival (Feb. 9-19, 2012).

These include Vsevolod Pudovkin’s The End of St. Petersburg (1927) and Storm Over Asia (1928); Boris Barnet’s The Girl with the Hat (1927) and Yakov Protazanov’s sci-fi feature Aelita, which depicts a revolution on Mars.

The Red Dream Factory was inspired by the Russian revolution and the early explosion in experimental Soviet art. That made it an early target for Hitler’s propaganda machine. The Nazis shut down the studio’s German operation, called Prometheus, shortly after taking power in 1933. Three years later, Stalin followed suit with Mezhrabpom in Moscow, renaming the studio Soyuzdetfilm and changing its mandate to the production of harmless children’s films.

The Berlin Festival Retrospective will screen more than 40 films from the Mezhrabpom archives, many of them German premieres.

To accompany the retrospective, European public broadcasters ARD and ZDF will screen Sergi Eisenstein’s 1928 masterpiece October at the Freidrichstadtpalast theater on Feb. 10, 2012. The Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra will accompany the film, performing live Edmund Meisel’s original score.

Berlin has also set up a cooperation with New York’s Museum of Modern Art to collaborate on joint projects. The Red Dream Factory Retrospective will be the first and several films from the Berlin show will travel to the MoMa in New York in March/April of next year.