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DECEMBER 14-17

Chris Marker doesn’t entirely explain the mystery of the man his 1993 documentary dubs The Last Bolshevik: Soviet director Alexander Medvedkin’s films were frequently censored, yet he survived the purges that claimed many of his peers. Marker is a fan of Happiness, the little-seen ’30s Medvedkin film he helped restore, but he also employs the director as a lens through which to view the rise and fall of Soviet Communism: Medvedkin was born in 1900, was swept up in the 1917 Revolution, and remained a “true believer” in Bolshevism until his death in 1989, as everything Lenin and Stalin built finally crumbled. Though this isn’t as free-ranging as some Marker documentaries, Medvedkin’s life—“the tragedy of a pure Communist in a world of would-be Communists”—does allow the filmmaker to meditate on such contemporaries as Vertov and Eisenstein and the role of film in the Soviet Union. The impact of Soviet propaganda rippled beyond its boundaries, Marker notes, showing a Western history text that identifies a still from Eisenstein’s 1920 October as a photo of the actual 1917 storming of the Winter Palace. At 12:30 p.m. today through Dec. 17 at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th & Constitution Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 737-4215. (Mark Jenkins)