MOSCOW CLUB & LAB OF NON-PROFESSIONAL FILM MAKERS
The history of the Moscow Club and Laboratory of Non-Professional Film Makers started in the late 50’es of the last century when the Moscow Society of Non-Professional Film Makers was established in the city. Initially, the Society was located in Taganka, an old quiet district in the heart of Moscow.
It was only later, in 1966, that the Society was reorganized to become the Moscow Club and Laboratory of Non-Professional Film Makers.
The new Club, as well as its predecessor, functioned under the auspices of the Moscow Council of Trade Unions. In fact, the Moscow Council of Trade Unions fully sponsored the Club; however, when bigger events, such as national amateur film festivals, were arranged and held, the funds were allocated by the All-Union Council of Trade Unions, a mighty organization of the Soviet times.
In February 1969 the Club moved over to the building of the cinema-house Volna (the Wave) in Berzarina street. The building was redesigned to meet the specific needs the Club of Non-Professional Film Makers. Thus, by the end of 1970, the Club boasted a big cinema hall, a smaller cinema hall used for workshops, an editing studio, a sound studio, a studio for making animated cartoons and a laboratory for film development.
The Moscow Club and Laboratory of Non-Professional Film Makers was the core for more than 100 smaller studios of amateur film makers of the city. At those times, a network of cultural centers, called Houses of Culture (Dom Kultury), functioned in the city, and almost each of them had its own amateur film studio. And, of course, there were individual amateurs, who also visited the Club and used its extensive facilities. Once a week, the enthusiasts met for a workshop or for a master class given to them by professional film makers.
Amateur film makers from the Soviet republics also used the Club’s resources and came to the capital of the Soviet Union for friendly meetings, workshops and cultural events. A unique All-Union Archive of the Best Non-Professional Films made by enthusiasts across the country was carefully collected by the Moscow Club members.
Amateur film-making had been always popular in the Soviet Union but it reached its height in the 70’s of the last century. The best non-professional films were shown in the Rossiya (Russia) cinema hall, which was regarded as the main cinema venue of the whole country. Many festivals were held, and the winners were given either money awards or actual film for further shootings.
Those were years when the nation’s patriotic feelings mingled with romantics of huge construction projects (Baikal-Amur Mainline Railroad, for example), preparation for the Olympic Games-80 and Lenin’s 100th anniversary. Younger generation of non-professional film-makers wanted to share their view of the country’s life and achievements.
Moscow non-professional film-makers continued to thrive in the 80’es until harsh economic realities of the 90’s started to erode the Club.
Lack of funding, shortages with film, changes in the mood of the society all contributed to the decline of the Moscow Club and Laboratory of Non-Professional Film Makers.
With the advent of digital film-making, the need for self-education in film-making also declined, as did the quality standards for amateur films.
In 2005 the Club was closed.
The Film Archive went to Cinema Plus, a studio set up as part of the Center of Folk Culture to preserve the films themselves, as well as the original projecting equipment and various relics of the past years, including authentic film posters, prizes and honorary diplomas.