Entuziazm, 1930, Dziga Vertov

Dziga Vertov Collection

As early as 1967, the Austrian Film Museum started to collect films, writings, photographs, posters and other documentation relating to (and created by) the Soviet filmmaking pioneer and theorist Dziga Vertov (1896-1954).


Vertov's work and achievements represented a central position in the museum’s policies from the very beginning: In 1967, the Film Museum published the first German translation of his selected writings, in 1972 Peter Kubelka and Edith Schlemmer restored Vertov's early sound film classic Entuziazm (1930), and in 1974 Peter Konlechner and Peter Kubelka presented a large-scale Vertov exhibition at the Albertina.


In organizing these projects, the Film Museum established a close relationship with Vertov's widow and artistic collaborator, Elizaveta Svilova. Between 1970 and 1974 Svilova donated part of Dziga Vertov's personal collection and papers to the institution – the foundation of what is now the Vertov Collection at the Austrian Film Museum. Today, this resource contains circa 100 film elements, circa 170 original manuscripts and autographs (Vertov's writings, sketches and editing schemes), circa 200 photographs (personal photos and work-related stills), circa 600 press clippings from around the world (primarily from the former Soviet Union and Germany), 33 original posters, and many other documents.

Since 2004, the Film Museum has been renewing its "Vertov tradition" of the 1960s and 70s. The collection is now being processed and evaluated by Slavicists and the museum’s research staff. It has been transferred into a online database which is online since spring 2009. Currently, additional material is being researched and integrated into the collection. In 2005, the Film Museum published a Double-DVD on Entuziazm and its restoration; in 2006, the largest-ever retrospective of Vertov's films was staged at the Film Museum, accompanied by a bilingual book which for the first time lays out the rich materials saved by Elisaveta Svilova: The Vertov Collection at the Austrian Film Museum.


From 2007 to 2010 the Film Museum co-organized the three-year research project Digital Formalism in collaboration with the Department of Theatre, Film and Media Studies (University of Vienna) and the Interactive Media Systems Group (Vienna University of Technology). Celebrating its completion, the Film Museum published a further Double-Disc DVD on Vertov, consisting of his rare features Šestaja čast' mira (A Sixth Part of the World) and Odinnadcatyj (The Eleventh Year). British composer Michael Nyman has created new scores for these two films from 1926 and 1928. All these activities aim at creating a network of – and for – international scholars, historians and curators, giving access to as many primary and secondary sources as possible in the interest of furthering and deepening the legacy of Dziga Vertov.


The Kinonedelja (Kino-Week) newsreels represent Dziga Vertov's first contribution to cinema. A total of 43 issues, each containing an average of 5 to 7 different items, were produced between May 1918 and June 1919. Vertov joined the newsreel's ranks as a secretary initially but by the fall of 1918 had taken on full responsibility for the series. Within the framework of the EFG1914 project, and continuing its recent tradition of publishing important works by Dziga Vertov in digital form, the Film Museum has made its complete Kinonedelja holdings freely available online. The publication of the Kinonedelja - Online Edition marks the first presentation of moving images on the Film Museum’s website.


In 2014 the Film Museum published its next DVD with works by Vertov, focusing on his tribute to the founder of the Soviet Union, completed ten years after Lenin's death: Three Songs About Lenin (Tri pesni o Lenine, 1934). The DVD presents the film in the "final version" – meaning both the sound and silent versions authorized by Vertov for (re-)release in 1938. In addition, this set contains the documentary Dziga Vertov, directed by Film Museum co-founder Peter Konlechner for German television. As a special bonus, the DVD includes two of Vertov's major newsreels, both related to Lenin: Kinopravda No. 21 (in a longer version, reconstructed by the Munich Film Museum) and Kinopravda No. 22.


Roland Fischer-Briand