The Disappearing Theoretician: From Anna Li to A.N. Pudovkina




Anna Pudovkina, Anna Zemtsova, Anna Li, Vsevolod Pudovkin, Lev Kuleshov, Boris Chaikovskii, Iuliia Solntseva, Elena Kuz’mina, Pera Atasheva, first female filmmakers, early film theory, early Russian cinema, Soviet cinema, film history, archive, montage


The article addresses the career and legacy of Anna Pudovkina, known professionally as Anna Li and Anna Zemtsova, as one of the first Russian film theoreticians (in 1918) and, briefly, an actress (in the 1920s). Her role in the development of the early theory of film acting and film editing (montage) has been obscured by her position as the wife of film director and theorist Vsevolod Pudovkin. The article juxtaposes Anna Pudovkina’s image as a housewife, which has solidified in Soviet film historiography through various memoirs, with her own ego documents that have remained unpublished until now. On the basis of Li/Pudovkina’s few published theory texts and her documents in her husband’s archival collection at the Russian State Archive for Literature and Art, the article addresses some of the reasons behind the gradual disappearance of Anna Li-Zemtsova-Pudovkina from cinema life and from cinema history.

Author Biography

Natalie Ryabchikova, American Studio of the Moscow Art Theater School

Natalie Ryabchikova holds a PhD in Film Studies with concentration in Slavic from the University of Pittsburgh and teaches at the American Studio of the Moscow Art Theater School. She published articles and chapters on Soviet film history in collected volumes as well as in Kinovedcheskie zapiski and in Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema. She recently guest-edited an issue of Critical Quarterly (59.1) on Sergei Eisenstein and Modernism and worked on the Russian version of Naum Kleiman’s Eisenstein on Paper (2017) published by Thames & Hudson in the UK and by Ad Marginem Press in Russia. Her book, Eisenstein Abroad: Between Stalin’s Cinema and Hollywood, will be published by I.B. Tauris in 2018.




How to Cite

Ryabchikova, Natalie. 2018. “The Disappearing Theoretician: From Anna Li to A.N. Pudovkina”. Apparatus. Film, Media and Digital Cultures of Central and Eastern Europe, no. 6 (August).

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