Esfir Shub

1894 – 1959

In addition to her involvement with Russian avant-garde theater and art movements, Esfir (also known as Esther) Shub was a pioneering editor and filmmaker and one of few women to play a significant role behind the scenes in the Soviet film industry. In 1922 at Goskino, the major state-owned film company, she was promoted to chief of the local montage division alongside another woman, Tatiana Levinton. Shub underwent specialized training to teach her to excise politically incorrect portions of films to render them suitable for Soviet audiences. After reediting many pre-revolutionary and foreign films, and new Soviet features, Shub became, largely on her own initiative, a pioneer of the “compilation film.” She applied this technique to the trilogy of films she made during the 1920’s: Fall of the Romanov Dynasty, The Great Road, and The Russia of Nicholas II and Leo Tolstoy. And in 1932, she recorded the first-ever sync-sound interviews.

“It is amazing how many unexpected solutions come up when you hold film stock in your hands. Just like letters: they are born on the top of the pen.”
— Esfir Shub, “Cinema Is My Life”. The full text can be found in the Appendix