Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Beanpole: New Historical Cinema and the Limits of the Watchable

This event was held virtually as a Zoom webinar and streamed via YouTube Live

Please join the Harriman Institute and the Russian Film Club at Columbia University for a discussion with Lilya Kaganovsky, Polina Barskova, and Tony Anemone about the 2019 film Beanpole. This event is part of our Contemporary Culture Series.

Beanpole, Kantemir Balagov’s sophomore effort, turned a new leaf in the representations of WWII in Russian cinema today. Instead of CGI battle scenes and pools of artificial blood, Balagov moves the violence off stage, Greek tragedy-like, and explores the lives of two women suffering from PTSD in post-war Leningrad. Renowned for its exquisite cinematography, Beanpole shows the imprint of Balagov’s mentor, Alexander Sokurov, as well as striking parallels with contemporary auteurs abroad, such as Abdellatif Kechiche, László Nemes, and Cristi Puiu. At the same time, its nuanced exploration of trauma and tragedy brings up the concept of the unwatchable and the extent to which it shapes historical cinema today.

The film is available at and on Amazon Prime.

Event Video