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American University Launches Russian Film Series With Vintage Movie Screening

Photo: ImageLink Photography

The Initiative for Russian Culture, an organization at American University that promotes greater relations between Russia and the United States, kicked off its new Russian film series on Friday with a 1920s-era Russian-meets-American movie screening. The night brought more than 500 Washington-area college students, deans, and Russian ambassadors and dignitaries to the Library of Congress for intercultural mingling.

“There is a need to reach out to the younger generation to promote a better understanding of Russian-Americans in future generations,” said initiative chair Susan Lehrman. “We want to give them a better understanding of Russian culture [and allow them] to understand a better view of their culture using audiovisual aspects of film, which provides a familiarity that resonates with young people today.”

Lehrman worked with Sandi R. Hoffman Special Events to create the ambience for the night, beginning with an hour-long cocktail reception where Occasions Caterers served Russian dishes like beef stroganoff, smoked salmon, and cocktail chicken Kiev. Movie ushers dressed in vintage clothing from the time period greeted guests as they entered the Coolidge Theater for a showing of Jazzmen, a Russian movie about a jazz pianist’s expulsion from school for his musical passion during the 1920s. Occasions served a mix of Russian and American movie snacks like candies and popcorn.

After the screening, the party moved to the main atrium for Russian desserts and coffee. Russian pianist Igor Bril and bassist Eugene Orenschenko performed towards the end of the night.