Access Pollywood: Exploring Russian Culture

by Editorial

At the Library of Congress, dignitaries and students alike enjoyed an exciting night of Russian culture and cuisine.
By John Arundel

IRC Associate Director Anton Fedyashin, Dean of AU's College of Arts and Sciences Peter Starr, Chair of Advisory Committee Susan Lehrman, Ambassador of the Russian Federation His Excellency Sergey Kislyak, IRC Director Eric Lohr

The Library of Congress exploded with Russian culture Friday night, September 30th, as Russian Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak and American University Dean Peter Starr, along with Susan Lehrman, chair of AU’s Initiative for Russian Culture, hosted the launch of a new program designed to expand Russian cultural offerings at DC-area universities.

The evening kicked off with a warm welcome by Librarian of Congress Dr. James H. Billington and a screening of the award winning Russian film, “We are Jazzmen” by MosFilm Director Karen Shakhnazarov. After the screening, while dignitaries and students alike enjoyed decadent Russiandesserts surrounded by an enormous ice sculpture depicting the Russian Orthodox Church, they listened to jazz performed by world renowned Russian pianist Igor Bril and bassist Evgeny Onishchenko.

“We are living in much better relations now than we were only two years ago,” Amb. Kislyak said. “This gives the students more chances to learn about life in each other’s countries; to learn what we are and – as I always underline, to learn what we are not – that is very important.”

The IRC will reach out to the “hearts and minds of our youth” through monthly screenings of classic Soviet and Russian films. There will also be increased discussions led by visiting experts, an array of academic conferences and panel discussions, and even exchanges of student choirs and theater groups. At AU specifically there will be new courses on Russian arts and culture as well as art exhibits and musical performances. “We know that many small steps can add up to a positive and permanent footprint for the future,” Starr said.

Consortium Students enjoying dessert in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress with ice sculpture of Russian Orthodox church.

American University Students attending their university's Initiative for Russian Culture event.

For more information and a schedule of upcoming film screenings, click here.

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