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Luca Caminati, “RR Does Dams” & Masha Salazkina, “Romancing Yesenia: The Global-Popular in the Soviet Union”


April 19 @ 2:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Luca Caminati, “RR Does Dams”

Traveling Auteurs The Geopolitics of Postwar Italian CinemaN. S. Thapa’s Films Division of India (FDI) documentary Bhakra Nangal (1958) celebrates the building of the eponymous dam on the Sutlej River. Towards the end of this 20-minute film, a group of workers is allowed to introduce themselves in their native tongues, and in a gesture of unity for a common cause, the diversity in physical features, dress, and languages is channeled towards the common cause of Indian modernity. As the late Fifties saw a widespread development of these kind of massive public projects throughout the socialist and Non Aligned world (Nehru has called hydroelectric dams “the new temples of India”), Rossellini’s “Indian dams’ films” – the second episode of India: Matri Bhumi (1959) and the eighth episode of his made-for-tv L’India vista da Rossellini (1959 – both on the construction of the Hirakud dam), show a transnational dialogue within and between accelerated modernity media.

Luca CaminatiLuca Caminati is Professor of Film and Moving Image Studies at Concordia University, Montreal. He is co-editor with James Leo Cahill of the collection Cinema of Exploration: Essays on an Adventurous Film Practice (2021). His forthcoming book, Traveling Auteurs. The Geopolitics of Post-War Italian Cinema (Indiana UP, 2024), investigates travel films of Italian directors in the Global South. He’s currently at work on a new project titled “The Italian Anticolonial Film Archive: Global Counterculture (1955-1975).”


Masha Salazkina, “Romancing Yesenia: The Global- Popular in the Soviet Union”

Romancing Yesenia How a Mexican Melodrama Shaped Global Popular CultureThis talk follows the production, transnational circulation, and reception of the highest grossing film in the history of Soviet exhibition, the 1971 Mexican romance Yesenia. The film adaptation of a telenovela based on a wildly popular graphic novel set during the Second Franco-Mexican War became a surprise hit in the USSR, selling more than ninety million tickets in the first year of its Soviet release alone. Taking Yesenia’s unprecedented popularity as an entry point into a wide-ranging exploration of the cultures of Mexico and the Soviet Union in the 1970s and of the ways in which popular culture circulated globally, Romancing “Yesenia” argues for the enduring importance and ideological ambiguities of melodramatic forms in global popular media.

Masha SalazkinaMasha Salazkina is professor of film studies at Concordia University, Montreal. She is the author of In Excess: Sergei Eisenstein’s Mexico (2009) and World Socialist Cinema: Alliances, Affinities and Solidarities in the Global Cold War (2023) and co-editor of Sound, Speech, Music in Soviet and Russian Cinema (2015), Global Perspectives on Amateur Film Histories and Cultures (2021). She is currently working on two new co-edited volumes: Teaching Migration in Literature, Film and Media and Cinemas of Global Solidarity (both forthcoming in 2025) and a coauthored book on the history of Boney M. Her newest book, Romancing Yesenia: How a Mexican Melodrama Shaped Global Popular Culture will be out in the summer 2024.


April 19
2:00 pm - 4:30 pm
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