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Ideologies in Fact: Still and Moving-Image Documentary in the Soviet Union, 1927–1932


Department of Communication and Culture
Indiana University
800 East 3rd Street
Bloomington, IN 47405


This article is a comparative analysis of moving and still-image documentary produced as part of the factography movement in the USSR. Factography was an interdisciplinary movement (driven in part by contemporary linguistic work) that sought to align with the First Five-Year Plan by eliminating the opposition between signification and production, transforming the relationship between language and work. I examine Esfir Shub's The Great Way alongside a photo-essay on “a day in the life” of a Soviet working family in light of the critical responses to them in order to highlight the set of beliefs these practitioners, critics, and audiences held about the meanings these mediums convey. Because these ideas revolved so centrally around concerns about the rootedness and mobility of photographic signs, I turn to models of entextualization and develop a notion of cinematic indexicality as both trace and deixis in order to explicate the media ideologies subtending these positions.[factography, cinema, photography, entextualization, indexicality]