Elizaveta Svilova

1900 – 1975

Elizaveta (a.k.a. Yelizaveta) Svilova began apprenticing at age twelve in a film laboratory. Beginning at the age of fourteen, she worked for the Pathé film company as a cutter and photo-printer, working there from 1914-18. As part of the “Council of Three” (with Dziga Vertov and Michael Kaufman) and as the editor of Man with a Movie Camera, she pioneered montage editing, which had a staggering influence on the evolution of film. She and Vertov were married; after he fell out of favor with the Soviet film industry, Svilova continued to work in film and supported both of them. Her directorial debut was For You at the Front. The Fall of Berlin, co-directed with Yuli Raziman, won the 1946 Stalin prize. Following Vertov’s death in 1954, Svilova left the film industry and took care of his legacy by publishing his writings and cataloguing his manuscripts.

Svilova with Peter Kubelka and Rosemarie Ziegler

Svilova’s lack of recognition has been outrageous, and scholars are now working to correct that. Eighty-five years ago, Dziga Vertov already knew how necessary and justified it was for her to receive that recognition.
However, the screen credit on Man with a Movie Camera has contributed to the confusion.
See the following page to see it, and to read more…