100 Days Before the Command
Image Credit: © 100 Days before the Command c/o Salzgeber.

100 Days Before the Command

classified 15 S

Queer Cinema From the Eastern Bloc


Fri 26 July 11:20

Cinema 2, Watershed

Hussein Erkenov
Vladimir Zamansky, Armen Dzhigarkhanyan, Oleg Vasilkov, Roman Grekov
67 mins, Subtitled, 1990, USSR
Primary language

Consisting of a series of vignettes of life in the Soviet Red Army for five young recruits, this is an unflinching portrait of masculinity in the final days of the USSR.

Using a non-narrative structure, the film is an associative, at times dreamlike, portrait of male homoeroticism and intimacy in an environment which sought to strangle desire and impose regulations on every aspect of a soldier’s life.

Against a backdrop of a state-endorsed military patriarchy, new recruits are pushed to their limits, yet find tenderness and comfort in each other. Mixing languid, long shots, with the physical exertion of military service, it’s reminiscent of Claire Denis’ Beau Travail.

Adapted from the novel by Yuri Polyakov, the film was produced semi-covertly, with the state censors being sent a decoy screenplay to approve. In a society in which same-sex intimacy and criticism of the military were both taboo, the film is filled with heavy implicit allusions to both subjects.

Digital Restoration courtesy of Salzgeber.

With an introduction by season co-curator Siavash Minoukadeh.

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