Off- and On-Screen

The ‘New Woman’ in the Cinema of the Russian Empire

International Conference | September 1-3, 2022, University of Basel (Nadelberg 6, Grosser Hörsaal)

Early cinema is closely linked to the changes in the role and image of women. This is also the case in the Russian Empire, where cinema has gained an important part in women's lives from the early 1900s onwards. Behind the scenes, women worked as professionals in various fields, from scriptwriting to directing to theatrical distribution; on screen, they would often play the main characters and their star performances could cast a lasting spell on the audience; last but not least, women were also deeply engaged with and influenced the development of narrative cinema in their roles as viewers, critics and fans.
By exploring the mentioned areas more profoundly, the international conference aims to develop new perspectives on the era of early Russian cinema as well as on women's self-liberation in the context of the emergence of the new medium of film.

Conference Program

International experts from various fields (film studies and history, Slavic studies, archives, and curation) will present their papers. We are particularly pleased to announce two keynote lectures, by Rachel Morley and Peter Bagrov.
Next to the presentations, the three-day event will feature film screenings at the Stadtkino Basel and the University of Basel. Its highlights include the introduction by Oleg Kovalov, director of The Isle of the Dead  (1992), and the live musical accompaniment by the duo "PURPURA/Ponomarev" to the silent film Satan Triumphant (1917).

You can find the conference program here.

The conference is open to the public. Venue: Universität Basel, Nadelberg 6, 4051 Basel

For participation in person, please register at:

For online attendance via Zoom, please use the following link and codes: R1VLeTZHSy9CZUZQSW5zNGdIemtaZz09
Meeting-ID: 687 3386 8271
Kenncode: 260394

Keynote Speakers:

  • Rachel Morley (University College London) 
  • Peter Bagrov (George Eastman Museum, USA)


The conference is organized by Olga Dereviankina (Gosfilmofond of Russia), Anna Kovalova (European University of St. Petersburg) and Clea Wanner (Department for Slavic Studies, University of Basel) in cooperation with Ute Holl (Department for Media Studies, University of Basel)

It is supported by the Swiss Science and Technology Cooperation with Russia and the CIS Region (SERI), coordinated by the Leading House at the University of Geneva.