Black Russians | Chicago Reader

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Video maker Kara Lynch takes on a fascinating subject, interviewing and following the shifting fortunes of several black or semiblack people who've come to Russia (or were born of immigrant parents) from North America, Africa, and the Caribbean. Not surprisingly, their experiences are extremely varied: some are international students currently studying in Russia, while others (among them an eloquent poet) are the offspring of black and Russian parents who got together in the 30s. The forms and expressions of Russian race prejudice are presented with some nuance, and the archival footage holds one's interest throughout. Unfortunately the video is handicapped by its diffuse focus, cutting between sound bites of mainly unrelated individuals, and Lynch mostly overlooks the Russian careers of actors Paul Robeson and the lesser-known Wayland Rudd (who appeared in Lev Kuleshov's The Great Consoler). 117 min.

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