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Film: The Commissar

The Northwest Film Center is pleased to invite you to a special screening of Aleksandr Askoldov’s The Commissar (USSR, 1967) to coincide with the release of Reed College professor Marat Grinberg’s new book on this important Soviet Film. The event is co-sponsored by the Portland Jewish Film Festival, an annual June event co-presented by the Film Center and the Institute for Judaic Studies.  

Filmed in 1960s, but kept from release for twenty years, The Commissar is one of the most important and compelling films of the Soviet era. Based on a short story by Vasily Grossman, it tells of a pregnant female Red Army commissar who is forced to stay with a Jewish family near the frontlines of the 1920s battle between the Red and White. The film drew the ire of censors for its frank portrayal of the violence faced by Russian Jews in the wake of the revolution.   

Marat Grinberg of Reed College will introduce the film. Prof. Grinberg teaches in the Russian Department and has a lifelong interest Jewish in cinema, particularly 

in Jewish aspects of film. This screening also celebrates the release of Prof. Grinberg’s book (also titled The Commissar) published by University of Chicago Press. Following a post screening Q&A with Prof. Grinberg, books will be available for purchase and signing.  

The Commissar will be screened at the Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium, Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Ave. Sunday, November 20, 4:30pm. This is a rare opportunity, so mark your calendars. 

The Northwest Film Center is a regional media arts organization offering a variety of exhibition, education programs, and artist services throughout the region. The Center presents a program of foreign, classic, experimental, and independent works year-round at the Whitsell Auditorium, located in the Portland Art Museum. For more information, visit

Earlier Event: November 16
Film: A Kippah in the Carribean
Later Event: January 22
Film: Carvalho's Journey