The Disappearing Theoretician: From Anna Li to A.N. Pudovkina

Natalie Ryabchikova


The article addresses the career and legacy of Anna Pudovkina, known professionally as Anna Li and Anna Zemtsova, as one of the first Russian film theoreticians (in 1918) and, briefly, an actress (in the 1920s). Her role in the development of the early theory of film acting and film editing (montage) has been obscured by her position as the wife of film director and theorist Vsevolod Pudovkin. The article juxtaposes Anna Pudovkina’s image as a housewife, which has solidified in Soviet film historiography through various memoirs, with her own ego documents that have remained unpublished until now. On the basis of Li/Pudovkina’s few published theory texts and her documents in her husband’s archival collection at the Russian State Archive for Literature and Art, the article addresses some of the reasons behind the gradual disappearance of Anna Li-Zemtsova-Pudovkina from cinema life and from cinema history.


Anna Pudovkina; Anna Zemtsova; Anna Li; Vsevolod Pudovkin; Lev Kuleshov; Boris Chaikovskii; Iuliia Solntseva; Elena Kuz’mina; Pera Atasheva; first female filmmakers; early film theory; early Russian cinema; Soviet cinema; film history; archive; montage

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Apparatus. ISSN 2365-7758