Film

  • Paper Cities
    Masha Panteleyeva and Svetlana Strelnikova
    Directors
  • GRANTEE
    Masha Panteleyeva, Svetlana Strelnikova & Nazli Kaya
    GRANT YEAR
    2016

Masha Panteleyeva, Svetlana Strelnikova, and Nazli Kaya, animation still from Paper Cities (Moscow, Old and New), 2016. Courtesy of the artists.

Paper Cities is an animated documentary that rediscovers the work of the 1960s unofficial Soviet architectural group NER, through a close look into the present lives of its surviving members in today's hyper-capitalist Russia. In recreating the paradoxical context of control and liberation of the Soviet Thaw, this documentary tells the story of a fictional city that had a chance at a different future—rooted in the alignment of environmental philosophy and socialist thought. Investigating the impact of a political ideology on an architect's ideas and their transformation once the ideological context becomes obsolete, Paper Cities untangles the closely interwoven elements of design, politics, the personal lives of professionals, and their roles in the transformation of Soviet society. Constructing a more nuanced documentary narrative where oral history is combined with the animated analysis of architectural drawings and documents, it suggests a subjective, even "psychoanalytic" reading of architectural history and the design process.

Masha Panteleyeva is an architect and a PhD candidate in the History and Theory of Architecture Program at Princeton University. She is writing a dissertation on the radical experimental Soviet architecture groups of the mid-twentieth century with the NER Group as the focal point of her research. Since 2009, she has taught courses in architectural history and urbanism at Cornell University, as well as graduate design studios at Columbia University's GSAPP and the Cooper Union School of Architecture. She has served as a design critic at Pratt Institute, Parsons, the Cooper Union, Columbia University, and Princeton University. Her work has been supported by the Canadian Centre for Architecture and Princeton University, and her writing has been featured at the Venice Biennale and the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, as well as appeared in publications such as Open City: An Existential Approach (Charta, 2015), Single Story Urbanism (Lars Müller, 2009), Project Journal, Pidgin Magazine, and the Architect's Newspaper, where she served as a writer in 2006–07.

Svetlana Strelnikova is a documentary filmmaker and producer interested in the intersection of idealism and real life. Her filmography includes Idiot (2007), Arrhythmia (2009), and the short documentary Monstration (2012), for the multimedia documentary project 15 Young by Young, which was screened on television by the German-French channel ARTE. In 2012, Strelnikova cofounded the women's documentary film festival Doc, 8th of March—the first Russian film festival project by, for and about women. Her latest documentary Kardiopolitika (2014) won “Best Feature Documentary” at the international film festival Message to Man in St. Petersburg and was nominated for the Nika Award—an annual national film award presented by the Russian Academy of Cinema Arts and Science.

Nazli Kaya is an animator, filmmaker, and designer. Kaya's short films have received multiple awards, including the Best Film Prize at the Green Film Festival in Seoul, South Korea. Her work has been featured in a number of international festivals, including the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, IDFA, and the BFI Future Film Festival in London. Besides working on her own films, she serves as a commissioning art director for documentary films that are produced by the European Cultural Foundation, the Czech Television Council, and the Academy of Science. In 2009, she worked as an assistant animator for Jan Švankmajer's latest animated feature Přežít svůj život /Surviving Life. Kaya, together with her partner Tomáš Doruška, has organized multiple workshops on classical animation and its uses in documentary filmmaking. In 2015, they led two international workshops, a nonprofit event for Kurdish children in Diyarbakir, Turkey, later produced for the Documentarist Film Festival in Istanbul, on subjects regarding human rights and environmental and social justice.