The State Museum and Exhibition Centre Rosphoto presents an exhibition of photographic adverts from the Soviet era within the framework of the Year of Russian Cinema. The exhibited works include photographs taken for different movies from the period starting with the 1930s to 1971.

The advertisements were produced by professional ‘film photographers’, who worked for each and every motion picture. They undertook different kinds of work, including shooting for phototesting, but their main goal was to create a set of promotional materials, which included ‘screen caps’ (staged photographs taken during the shooting of movie scenes or, more often, right after the takes) as well as photos of the filming process and portraits of the main authors (art directors, scriptwriters, lead roles). The copies of such photographs were hung in the cinema and passed on to the press.

The displayed works are divided into two parts. The first one consists of photographs that were shot mainly for the classical movies of the 1930s and come from the collection of the Leningrad Society of Educational and Scientific Cinematography (1936–1939). Among them are the historical-Revolutionary narratives featuring the Soviet leader, such as Lenin in October by М. Romm, eccentric musical comedy Merry Fellows by G. Aleksandrov, the Soviet Union’s first feature in colour Grunya Kornakova by N. Ekk, the first motion-animated cartoon in the world featuring puppets and actors (The New Gulliver by A. Ptushko), et al.

The second part of the exhibition consists of photographs for film advertisements of various Soviet studios (Mosfilm and Lenfilm, as well as Kiev, Tallin, Minsk, Riga, Tbilisi, Yerevan, and Kishinev film studios), created during 1940–1971. These works include photos representing famous films (Cossacks of the Kuban by I. Pyryev, Lady with the Dog by I. Kheifits, Brief Encounters by K. Muratova), as well as the long-forgotten ones (Dark is the Night by B. Barnet, Thrice Resurrected by L. Gaidai, Blue Arrow by L. Estrin).

Placed in chronological order, these shoots demonstrate the metamorphosis of Soviet film heroes and the motion picture visual. Cinematography evolved from studio stage to location filming, from ideological illustrations to humanity, from poster-like imagery to delicacy, from overemotionality to restraint, from sculpturesque heroes and repeating arrangements to liveliness and variety.

The characteristic feature of such photographs was an obvious neglect for decor. Within the framework of socialist realism, as the critics wrote, the film adverts (as well as the movies themselves) ‘focused solely on the inner world of the subjects’.

These days each film unit is also followed up by photographers, but one can’t see the actual screen caps at the cinema: they have been replaced by posters, advertisement shields and huge monitors demonstrating advert videos of films. Photography has become material for posters, with the digitally processed image being drawn anew.

The works presented at the exhibition refer to the ‘era of handmade’. During the first 70 years of the existence of cinema, everything was real, not drawn: the scenery, crowd shots, motion, stunts, even model shots. Advertising photography presented the real tangible world and complied with it by means of film developing in processing tanks and printing on paper.