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Zhensheena Minskaya (Minsk Girl)

Anna Thew
7 mins colour 16 mm

Zhensheena Minskaya (Minsk Girl)

Over 200 women smile into my Super 8 camera in Minsk. A portrait film with pop music and Byelorussian language for a sound track.

for Irina Dismennaja and Ella Milova

On the occasion of the 2nd Women's Film Festival of Minsk, Belarus. I took my Bauer Super 8 camera with a Schneider lens. It was not the world of Chagall that I imagined. Belarus received 75% of the fall-out from Chernobyl. There is poor food distribution and a shortage of fruit. The telephones never seem to work. The women of Minsk nevertheless get dolled up like drag queens for a date, or a simple outing in the park. In the face of adversity the Beauty Parlour flourishes. In 2 days I filmed more than 200 women. Some persist for only 1/24th of a second (a single flash frame). The original Super 8 was stretch printed to 16mm thanks to Kodak. The original language dialogue, spoken by Andrei Vushatku and learned by Anna Thew, was recorded at the Byelorussian Franciscan Seminary in North London 2002. The constructivist in camera titles were filmed on 16mm for the premiere at the Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen the same year.

Made without funding from the Arts Council of England. Minsk Girl is in distribution with Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen 2002. Shown in raw uncut form with other S8 reels at the Metro Cinema 1996. S8 original also screened at VIVA Super 8 Festival 1996. "We just love the Minsk Girls" (boys at the Metro).

Thanks to the women of Minsk who appeared in the film, to Oleg Tcherny and Gula for assisting, to Igor Sukmanov for the Byelorussian pop music, Translation into Byelorussian, Oleg Tcherny. Fax translation for end credits, staff at the Byelorussian Embassy, London.

Titles and optical print to 16mm, Anna de Thew.

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