Svetlana Boym: Exile and Imagination
This one hour documentary film is about the life and work of Svetlana Boym, literary and cultural critic, media artist, novelist and playwright. In 1980, age 21, Svetlana left the USSR for the US, unable to pursue studies at the Leningrad university because of the Jewish quota. After graduate studies at Boston University and Harvard, she became the Carl Hugo Reisinger Professor of Slavic and Comparative Literature at Harvard. A brilliant writer of ambitious scope and great imagination, combining personal memoir with philosophical essay and historical analysis, she explored motifs of exile, nostalgia, the diasporic imagination and different forms of freedom in Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Nabokov, Mandelstahm, Akhmatova, Brodsky, and many others, in a total of six books, with two more about to appear. Through videos of her lectures and interviews, together with photographs since her childhood, and her own photographs, and photomontages, we convey this remarkable person and her scholarly, critical, and artistic contributions. Interviews with family, teachers, colleagues, students and friends, including writer Masha Gessen and artist Vitaly Komar, provide different perspectives. The text of the film is, for the most part, drawn from her writings.