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REVIEW: Dash Cafe – Odessa: a city of Rogues and Schnorrers

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‘Cigars and delicate silks, cocaine and metal files, loose-leaf tobacco from the state of Virginia and black wine purchased on the isle of Chios. Every object had its price; they washed down each figure with Bessarabian wine, which smelt of sunshine and bedbugs.’ This is how Odessian-born writer Isaac Babel (1894-1940) describes the riches of the port-…

Julia Secklehner | March 1, 2017
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Illuminating the Past: an Interview with ‘Neon’ film-maker Eric Bednarski

In ‘Neon’, Eric Bednarski’s award-winning 2014 documentary, the history of Warsaw is traced through its neon lights. It’s a retelling of Polish history, mixing documentary features from several decades, focusing in on small stories alongside the great events of the recent past. We caught up with the Director here.  CEEL: How did you come to choose neon…

Julia Secklehner | February 25, 2017
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EXHIBITION REVIEW: ‘Another Russia: Post-Soviet Printmaking’ at the V&A

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Another Russia: Post-Soviet Printmaking is one of V&A’s newest temporary displays, comprising around 40-50 graphic works and  offering both a fascinating insight into the post-Soviet printmaking practice and a glimpse into V&A’s contemporary art collecting activity. All works on view are the museum’s recent acquisitions, some made possible through the help of grant funds, and…

Sofia Gurevich | February 25, 2017
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FILM REVIEW: ‘Neon’ (2014) – Eric Bednarski’s electric account of Warsaw’s City Lights

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In this award-winning documentary, director Eric Bednarski traces the history of Poland’s capital through the city’s neon lights – merging design, politics and history in an ambitiously innovative project. It’s a retelling of Polish history, so often the subject of grand films that exploit the emotional weight of its traumatic turns from Nazism to Stalinism.…

Julia Secklehner | February 20, 2017
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BONE MUSIC: Recording Communism at the ICA

Resistance to dominant political forces can come in many forms. A small audience at the ICA on Sunday was treated to two excellent discussions about two forms of resistance in the former Soviet bloc and Romania. At the heart of both stories are illegal bootlegging and the remarkable ingenuity people find when faced with censorship…

Jo Varney | November 20, 2016
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PREVIEW: ‘Chuck Norris vs. Communism’ with special guest Irina Margareta Nistor, ‘the most famous voice of Communist cinephilia’ – Romanian Cultural Institute 11/11

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In 1985 Nicolae Ceaușescu, the Romanian dictator, was in his twentieth year of Communist rule. The country was culturally isolated, all forms of external media choked off, and in a cost and energy-saving exercise Ceaușescu cut state TV from two channels to one, limiting broadcasting to two or three hours a day. As in other Eastern Bloc…

Jo Varney | November 3, 2016
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ROUNDTABLE PREVIEW: ‘Children of the Revolution – British Writers of Hungarian Origin’ (20 October 2016)

Thursday 20 October 2016, 6.30pm Monnet Room, Europe House 32 Smith Square, London SW1P 3EU ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION Children of the Revolution  – British writers of Hungarian origin Monica Porter, Tibor Fischer and Nick Barlay Historian: Dorottya Baczoni Moderator: Robin Ashenden To mark the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian revolution, the Hungarian Cultural Centre organizes…

Robin Ashenden | October 14, 2016
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A Royal Conversation: HRH Crown Princess Margareta of Romania at the RCI

The Hohenzollerns, the German dynasty that ruled Romania from 1866 until 1947  (when the communist regime was installed) are little known in the UK. But their stories involve a whole range of monarchs across Europe, including Queen Victoria. To an audience of over a hundred both standing and sitting, Princess Margareta of Romania presented her…

Paula Erizanu | July 19, 2016
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Superstar Pope of the Cold War Era: John Paul II Remembered

Kraków,  the Polish city in which Pope John Paul II – then Karol Wojtyła – was once cardinal, has at a rough estimate more than two hundred churches, and they are of every variety: Gothic churches, Baroque churches, Romanesque churches; Bernardine churches, churches Franciscan, Jesuit, Capucine and Carmelite. There are churches which stand out proudly…

Robin Ashenden | July 11, 2016
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In Praise of Polish London

“Dear Poles, I am so sorry to hear about what happened yesterday. We the Brits are grateful to you for fighting alongside us in the war and now for the enormous contribution you make to our society. We love you.” Thus read one of the messages the Polish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith received last week…

Robin Ashenden | July 5, 2016