Post-Soviet Allegories

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Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s debut film, The Tribe (Plemya), has received a great deal of attention since it first swept Cannes in 2014, generally earning praise from critics, notwithstanding at least one audience member rendered unconscious following a real-time abortion scene. In the Los Angeles Review of Books Annie Julia Wyman went so far as to declare that the formal language of the film, specifically its masterful camerawork and gutsy auditory minimalism, is ‘so powerful and complex as to re-emphasize the place of art — in this case, filmic art — alongside violence and politics as a third means of processing and shaping collective life’.1 While others have criticized its bleakness, charging it with chic nihilism or cynical exploitation, 2 these readings too often elide a central dimension of the film’s narratological and formal structure—namely, its national context.

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