Experiencing Interruptions?

Red Africa

After gaining independence in the early 1960s, the young African nations are greeted by an unexpected and enigmatic friend from a far-off continent. Independent Africa receives a seemingly endless stream of Soviet parliamentarians, who arrive on the continent to pay respect to the newly independent states.. These ambassadors of the nation with a ‘bright future’ radiate friendliness and offer assistance in technical, social and cultural development under the banner of a new ideology of equality and fraternity.
But is everything as rosy as the Soviet propaganda claims? Are there any strings attached to the Soviet Union’s goodwill? What were the real objectives of the Red Empire?

  • Alexander Markov
  • Alexander Markov
  • Stanislav Poplavskii
  • Rui Ribeiro
  • Ansgar Shaefer
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental
  • Runtime:
    60 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 9, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    180,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    Russian Federation
  • Language:
    English, Russian
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Vision Du Reel
    April 10, 2022
    World premiere
Distribution Information
  • Ukulele Films
Director Biography - Alexander Markov

Alexander Markov is a documentary filmmaker, cinema historian and artist.
Born in Leningrad, Russia at January 28, 1973.
He directs films in Saint Petersburg and abroad, teaches documentary directing at Saint Petersburg State Institute of Film and Television, and works as an independent curator. His video installations were shown at Sharjah Biennial, Calvert 22, Iwalewahaus, Africa.Cont, CEU etc. Markov's films were participated and awarded prizes at various international film festivals like Berlinale Talents, Visions Du Reel, DocPoint, Sheffield Doc, Film Africa, Message To Man, NYAFF, Artdocfest, Cinefest, Directors Lounge, Stalker, Temps De Images and others.

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Director Statement

Several years ago, I visited a Russian film archive where I found
a number of reels produced in Africa during the Cold War by
order of the Soviet Union. The footage revealed a prototype
version of the Soviet paradise in Africa. The Soviet Union,
however, collapsed in the early 90s — did it really spend thirty years
building a twin version of itself on the African content (1960–1990)?
I was in a state of disbelief when I saw the
footage, which showed Africans building their
‘bright future’ under the supervision of Soviet
specialists. I sat down at the editing table,
putting the first African presidents alongside
Soviet export goods, and juxtaposing a rocket
bearing the ever-smiling expression of Yuri
Gagarin with the many busts of Lenin that
decked the offices of Soviet leaders, a wise
and cautious expression on his face. These
images surrounded me since childhood, and
still do now: many streets in Russian towns and
villages bear the name of Lenin to this day.
For some reason, nobody ever questions this.
While immersed in the footage shot by Soviet
filmmakers in Africa, I suddenly asked myself:
why does all this familiar scenery look so
staged and contrived after being transferred,
unchanged, to foreign soil. Soviet marketing
and advertising, embedded in the rhetoric of
independence of a number of African nations,
is an area that has yet to be explored and
which is deserving of attention.