The project Russian Hollywood is a result of the effective cooperation between ROSPHOTO and famous historian of fashion Alexander Vassiliev

Russian Hollywood has been my great interest for over two decades. Having moved to France, eventually I engaged in searching for rare films with ‘Russian' plots or those featuring Russian actors. I found films and photographs both in Paris and the USA where I worked with various American ballet companies. Throughout recent years, I have been putting together a large collection of unique vintage photographs dedicated to this theme. My St.-Petersburg audience is now introduced to best examples from this collection.

Russian emigrants made a great influence on the world culture of the XX century. The main spheres of this, undoubtedly positive, influence were literature, ballet, Paris fashion and American cinematograph.

Beauty in Exile, my previous exhibition at State Russian Centre of Photography, was dedicated to Russian beauties and their engagement in the world of fashion. The show aroused great interest among audience and press.

The present exhibition takes up the story in a certain way, showing unique portraits of those who were involved in the creation of Hollywood films in the 1920-1960s. It is the time span when Russian participation in American cinematograph was most intensive and interesting. The new exhibition in St.-Petersburg returns to the audience half-forgotten beautiful faces of famous Russian artists and actresses that were engaged in Hollywood silent and sound films:  Alla Nazimova, Olga Baklanova, Anna Sten, Eugenie Leontovich, Maria Ouspenskaya, Lila Kedrova, Tamara Toumanova, Irina Baronova, Ivan Lebedeff, Vladimir Sokoloff, Micha Auer, Leonid Kinskey, Akim Tamiroff, Yul Brynner to name a few. We return their memory to Russia by showing their photographs and telling about their lives.

Films with ‘Russian' plots aroused notable interest to our culture in the USA and the world, enriched historical and cultural context and furthered the expansion of Russian style in fashion. Russian contribution to world cinematograph was, in fact, appreciated by contemporaries. Vladivostok-born Yul Brynner and Moscovite Lila Kedrova received Oscar, Hollywood's highest award. An outstanding costume designer Varvara Karinskaya, born in Kharkov, received an Oscar for the film Joan d'Arc with Ingrid Bergman.

Films connected with our exhibition include screen adaptations of the classical Russian literature, such as Anna Karenina, Resurrection, War and Peace, The Brothers Karamazov, Doctor Zhivago, as well as American films about Russia and the USSR: Rasputin and the Empress, Balalaika, On Your Toes, Ninotchka, Tovarich, Comrade X, Song of Russia, Days of Glory, to name a few.

It is no wonder that names and faces of those who created these films are little known to our contemporaries. The work of ‘Russian Hollywood' was simultaneous to the cold war between the USSR and the USA. This is why films featuring Russian emigrant actors or those with 'Russian' plots rarely passed Soviet censorship to be shown in the USSR.

One of our aims is to fill this gap and to reconstruct, at least partly, the contribution of Russian emigration to the world culture of XX century. Russian Hollywood is also the theme of my new book to be issued soon by Slovo publishing house in Moscow.

Alexander Vassiliev