Stuart Liebman

  • Sergei Loznitsa, Babi Yar: Context, 2021, color and black-and-white, sound, 121 minutes.
    film March 31, 2022

    War After War

    SERGEI LOZNITSA, the prolific Ukrainian cineaste who has directed no less than twenty-six documentaries and five fictional features, remains too little known by general art cinema audiences, even after having garnered fifty-two significant awards at prominent international film festivals over his twenty-year career. In 2018 Loznitsa’s jet-black political satire Donbass earned him the prize for best director in the “Un Certain Regard” competition at Cannes. Three years later, also at Cannes, his feature-length documentary Babi Yar: Context won the L’Œil d’or as the best documentary of 2021. After


    EARLY IN 1969, an article in Artforum opened a door for me—and, as I soon learned, not only for me—onto a conception of cinema much larger and more intellectually stimulating than any I had until then imagined. I had only recently embarked on my training for an academic career in twentieth-century art history, even while quietly questioning whether I would ever have anything new or important to say about Picasso or Pop art. Given my already-kindled enthusiasm for movies, I was not sure I cared if I did. 

    I was familiar with the first academic essays about such European auteurs as Antonioni and

  • Sergei Eisenstein’s 1942 sketch for the scene of repentance for Ivan the Terrible.

    Naum Kleiman’s Eisenstein on Paper

    Eisenstein on Paper: Graphic Works by the Master of Film, by Naum Kleiman. London: Thames & Hudson, 2017. 320 pages.

    IN HIS MEMOIR, Beyond the Stars, Sergei Eisenstein opens the chapter devoted to his drawings with an admission that is both candid and deeply ironic: “In the first place, I never learned to draw.” His formal art education was, indeed, limited. More important, however, over the course of his life, the Russian director actively tried to unlearn academic “rules,” seeking to develop his own, more authentic way of creating pictures, and to reconceive the role drawing played in his

  • Sergei Eisenstein, Untitled, n.d., colored pencil on paper, 10 5/8 × 8 1/4".

    Sergei Eisenstein

    Throughout his thirty-year career, the Russian film director Sergei Eisenstein made drawings in many different modes for many different purposes. Estimates suggest that more than five thousand images varying in size and finish—some drawn on mere scraps of ordinary paper or on stationery filched from Mexican hotels—remain in his archive or in other private and public collections. Along with filmmaking and film theory, they constitute a crucial, though largely underrated, third pillar of his artistic achievement.

    Eisenstein sketched from his earliest years and was essentially self-taught.

  • Marcin Wrona, Demon, 2015, color, sound, 94 minutes. Piotr (Itay Tiran).
    film September 05, 2016

    Marriage Trap

    THE APPARENT SUICIDE of forty-two-year-old director Marcin Wrona at the Gdynia Film Festival in September last year deprived Polish cinema of one of its most impressive emerging talents. The six feature-length movies and several shorts he made over the past decade showcase his fascination with characters living at the edge of violence. The roles he helped to script—a boxer filled with rage at his incurable illness in Moja Krew (My Flesh, My Blood, 2009); in Chrzest (The Christening, 2010), a soldier turned hit man forced to murder the friend who saved him from drowning—were provocative, even

  • Jean Epstein, Coeur fidèle (The Faithful Heart), 1923, 35 mm, black-and-white, silent, 84 minutes. Marie (Gina Manès).


    1921 WAS AN ANNUS MIRABILIS for Jean Epstein (1897–1953). Born in Warsaw and raised in Switzerland, the twenty-four-year-old former medical student had his first book—an ambitious study of French poetic modernism grandly titled La poésie d’aujourd’hui, un nouvel état d’intelligence (Today’s Poetry: A New Mind-Set)—published by a prestigious vanguard press, Éditions de la Sirène. Its positive reception made him a rising star in the Parisian avant-garde arts scene, and literary luminaries as different as André Gide and Max Jacob expressed disappointment that the hitherto unknown author