• Elena Razlogova
  • Department of History, Concordia University
  • Abstract Title: The Liberation Politics of Live Translation: African Cinema in Soviet Tashkent-

Bio: Elena Razlogova is an Associate Professor of History at Concordia University. She is the author of The Listener's Voice: Early Radio and the American Public (2011) and co-editor of “Radical Histories in Digital Culture” issue of the Radical History Review (2013). She has published articles on U.S. radio history, digital music recommendation and recognition algorithms, and film festivals and film translation in the Soviet Union. Her work on the translation and circulation of Global South cinemas in the Soviet Union came out in Sound, Speech, Music in Soviet and Post-Soviet Cinema, SubStance, and Studies in European Cinema, and is forthcoming in the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies. She is currently working on a history of simultaneous film translation and transnational cinematic networks at Soviet film festivals in Moscow and Tashkent.

Abstract: This talk analyzes decolonization-era African cinemas in multilingual translation at the Tashkent Festival of African, Asian, and Latin American Cinema, a biannual event that hosted hundreds of films and filmmakers from dozens of Global South countries between 1968 and 1988. Soviet interpreters translated films made in an array of colonial and indigenous languages live during projection: piped into the movie theater on top of the original soundtrack in Russian, transmitted via earphones into five official languages, and, at times, whispered privately as “chuchotage” in indigenous languages of various guests. The Tashkent festival was the most ambitious multilingual film translation project of its era. Simultaneous film translation enabled mass Soviet spectatorship of African cinema, as festival films traveled from major Tashkent film theaters to the “Soviet South”—other Uzbek cities and other Central Asian and Transcaucasian Soviet republics. Film translation and multilingual interaction at Tashkent also enabled South-South connections among festival guests. Senegalese Ousmane Sembène and Pauline Soumanu Vieyra, Désiré Ecaré, as well as filmmakers from Somalia, Ghana, Mali, Sudan, Mozambique and elsewhere on the continent, used their time at the festival to further their pan-African, Afro-Asian, and Tricontinental cinematic contacts and institutions.  These ties were especially important for ”Third Worldist” movements that aimed to use cinema as a weapon for liberation. The Soviet state aimed to position Soviet cinema as the model for film cultures of decolonization-era Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The varied South-South connections on Higher Education Curriculum on Gender and Transformative Leadership for African Universities and Civil Societies. African filmmakers forged at Tashkent transcended and contradicted the aims of Soviet cultural diplomacy.

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