Call for Submission: Decolonising the (Post-)Soviet Screen


Special Issue of Apparatus. Film, Media and Digital Cultures of Central and Eastern Europe 17 (2023)
in cooperation with goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Cinema

As part of the symposium of the 23rd goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Cinema, which will be curated by Heleen Gerritsen and Barabara Wurm and held in Wiesbaden, Germany, 26 April - 2 May 2023, this special issue of Apparatus aims to examine the concept of decolonisation in the contexts of (post-)Soviet space, including Central Asia, Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltics, the Caucasus, and the Russian Federation and its autonomous regions.

Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine has accelerated certain social tendencies in (post-)Soviet societies that have been emerging for decades. A significant expression of this is the desire of many regions, (indigenous) peoples and communities to break away from the dominating Russian/post-Soviet mainstream culture. Since the beginning of the war activists have increasingly denounced racism in Russia. Indigenous peoples (non-Russian and often non-Russian-speaking), some of whom live in autonomous republics and regions, are prone to experience racism and discrimination at school, at work, and in everyday life. The war has led to further marginalisation of these groups abroad because they are citizens of the Russian Federation, whether they like it or not. The fact that a disproportionate number of soldiers from regions such as Buriatiia, Kalmykiia or Dagestan have died in Ukraine during the war also shows the neocolonial conditions that still exist within the Russian Federation. 

Soviet and Russian film culture has traditionally been heavily concentrated in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, which entailed not only centralisation of the film industry and related unequal distribution of resources but often led to the (unintended) propagation of ethnic and social stereotypes about minorities. For the past decade, however, independent film cultures have been emerging in some of the autonomous regions, most notably in the Siberian Sakha Republic (Yakutia), where films are made in the Yakut language primarily for the regional audience. In Nal’chik (Kabardino-Balkarian Republic), Aleksandr Sokurov started from scratch a film training programme addressed to young directors from "the regions", as Russian federal districts are often called. Internationally acclaimed films by his students include Kantemir Balagov's Tesnota / Closeness (2017) and Kira Kovalenko's Razzhimaia kulaki / Unclenching the Fists (2021), which were partly shot in indigenous languages and depict a multi-ethnic Russia.  

For nation-building in Ukraine, the film industry has been an important tool for years – the national identity is in the process of reinventing itself here while feeling threatened by the ongoing war. Other Soviet successor states, such as Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, are also experiencing a cultural renaissance. 

This special issue, as well as the symposium itself, will address these and related topics from the film-historical, political, sociological, and aesthetic perspectives. We also encourage papers that apply new theoretical and interdisciplinary approaches.

Topics may include but are not  limited to:

  • the concept of decolonisation in the eastern European / (post-)Soviet context(s)
  • indigenous, non-Russophone cinemas in the post-Soviet space
  • national cinemas in post-Soviet countries
  • film heritage and archival policies in the (post-)Soviet space
  • depiction of non-Russian minorities in (post-)Soviet cinema between neo- and decolonisation
  • Ukrainian film heritage between rediscovery and an uncertain future
  • film school training for filmmakers from peripheral communities within Russia and other post-Soviet states
  • agents and strategies of decolonisation and decolonising aesthetics in post-Soviet cinema
  • decolonising (post-)Soviet and Russian film studies

The editors invite scholars at all stages of their careers to submit paper proposals for this special issue.

Please send your proposals in English by 1 March 2023 (400-word abstract, 3-5 references, 150-word bio, contact details, affiliation, if applicable) to Lukas M. Dominik ( and Irina Schulzki (

Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by 1 April 2023. The articles (ca. 6000 words,  including notes, max. 3–4 images) are due by 31 May 2023. For formatting the article, please use this online template which you can also download in any format.

All articles for this special issue will be made available digitally in open access immediately after publication. A physical publication is planned.