The 17th annual symposium offers a selection of mostly recent Russian films tied to this year's theme, "Red Empire Reloaded." Some films screen on the University of Pittsburgh campus during the day, through Fri., May 8. Nighttime films screen at the Melwood Screening Room, in Oakland. A complete schedule is at www.rusfilm.pitt.edu.
Fragment of Empire. In this 1929 silent film from Fridrikh Ermler, a former soldier suffering from amnesia regains his memory and wakes up in the new-to-him Soviet Union, marked by new buildings, statues of Lenin and hearty socialist workers who assure him that now he is the boss. A political comedy with some bite, and for silent-film fans, a nice example of fabled Soviet montage. With live musical accompaniment. 7:30 p.m. Wed., May 6
The Test. In this symbolically loaded, dialogue-free drama from Aleksandr Kott, a teenage girl seeks to escape the endless expanse of Central Asian steppe, and ponders two suitors: a local fellow and a Russian. A few clues place the story sometime in the mid-20th century, though the spare life suggests a place free from time, until the end marks a definitive date. 7:30 p.m. Thu., May 7
Ordered to Forget. Khusein Erkenov's docudrama relates how, during World War II, various ethnic groups were routed from their homelands. Here, it's Chechens, in the mountain village of Khaibakh, who discover that compliance or resistance is equally futile, especially when mandated military expediency requires a horrific solution. In Russian and Chechen, with subtitles. 7:30 p.m. Fri., May 8
The Hope Factory. A northern industrial town offers a relatively comfortable life, but the trade-off is accepting a spoiled landscape, remote location and long, gloomy winters. Thus, in Nataliia Meshchaninova's coming-of-age drama, teenage Sveta struggles with whether to stay — her friends combat the tedium with boozy antics — or go, but to where?