A View to the East
When Americans think about Eastern Europe, they recognize the region’s masterful filmmaking, says Amanda Rivkin ’06. Films from the former Eastern bloc, says Rivkin, have a political complexity and emotional richness that she believes Western movies often lack. She’s spent the last year offering proof, at the monthly screenings of the Eastern European Film Club, which she founded her freshman year.
“Eastern European films are more violent and sensual than American movies, but it’s never gratuitous,” Rivkin says. “They never shy away from reality, even when they portray absurd, impossible situations.”
At first, the club showed films from the Library and from Rivkin’s own modest collection. Then its repertoire got a boost when Melissa Frazier, Russian faculty member and adviser to the group, invited them to purchase new films for the College on behalf of the Russian department.
Last fall, historian Jefferson Adams, who had attended a conference about Eastern-bloc films over the summer, became a second faculty adviser to the club. He encouraged Rivkin to invite renowned Czech director Vojtech Jasny to speak at the College, and Jasny’s appearance in February 2004 brought new insights.
Adams lauds Rivkin’s efforts to share her beloved films with Sarah Lawrence. “Artists who have barriers to overcome”—like living in an Eastern-bloc country during the Cold War—“are forced to find creative solutions. Their films are masterpieces, and students need to know how wonderful and important they are.”