A major part of the interest of these four films from the Soviet National Film School—also known as the Moscow Institute of Cinematography or the VGIK, the place where Eisenstein, Kuleshov, Vertov, and Pudovkin studied and taught—is the diverse glimpses they offer of Russian life and culture. For this reason, the most conventional, familiar, and “accessible” item—Morozov’s Metro (1988), a lyrical glide through the Moscow subway system—also struck me as the least interesting. Erkenov’s Kolya (1987), a subjective portrait of a deprived and confused eight-year-old boy with an unhappy home life, is a lot more affecting. Ivan Okhlobystin’s obscure but fascinating and lively The Wave Breaker (1989), about the doubts and fantasies of a young man preparing to get married, has some of the exuberance, unpredictability, and sexiness of an early French New Wave film; it also includes several stanzas (printed and recited) of Russian poetry. Beginnings (1988), the only work in the bunch that reflects the montage tradition of the Soviet silents—a striking and percussive assembly of found documentary footage set to music and sound effects—is by Artavazd Peleshian, one of the grand old men of Soviet experimental film. It isn’t clear why this film is included (perhaps he’s a teacher at the school), but it’s gratifying to see a sample of his work in Chicago in any case. A panel discussion with Okhlobystin will follow the Friday screening.