As part of the symposium of the 23rd goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Cinema, curated by Heleen Gerritsen and Barbara Wurm and held between April 26th  and May 2nd 2023 in Wiesbaden, Germany, a special issue of Apparatus aims to discuss and apply the concept of decolonization in the context of the (post-)Soviet space including Central Asia, Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltics, the Caucasus, and the Russian Federation and its autonomous regions.

The Russian full-scale war against Ukraine accelerates certain social tendencies in post-Soviet societies that have been emerging for decades. A significant expression of this is the desire of many regions, (indigenous) peoples and communities to break away from the Russian/post-Soviet mainstream culture. Since the beginning of the war activists have been increasingly denouncing racism in Russia. Especially indigenous peoples, or non-Russian and non-Russian-speaking peoples, some of whom live in autonomous republics and regions, face racism and discrimination at school, at work, and in everyday life. The inception of the war has led to further marginalization of these groups abroad as citizens of the Russian Federation. The fact that a disproportionate number of soldiers from regions such as Buriatia, Kalmykiia or Dagestan die in Ukraine during the war also shows the neocolonial conditions within the Russian Federation.

Russian film culture has traditionally been heavily concentrated in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg, which entailed not only centralisation of film industry and related unequal distribution of resources but  – often led to (unintended) propagation of ethnic and social stereotypes about minorities are often uncritically disseminated, adopted, and accepted by society. For the past decade however, independent film cultures have been emerging in some of the autonomous regions, most notably in the Siberian Sakha Republic (Yakutia), where films are made in Yakut for a regional audience, mainly. In Nal’chik (Kabardino-Balkarian Republic), Aleksandr Sokurov started a film training programme adressed to young directors from “the regions”, as Russian federal districts are often called. Internationally acclaimed films of his students include Kantemir Balagov’s CLOSENESS (2017) and Kira Kovalenko’s UNCLENCHING THE FISTS (2021), which were partly shot in indigenous languages and depict a multi-ethnic Russia. For nation-building in Ukraine, the film industry has been an important tool – a national identity is reinventing itself here but sees itself acutely threatened by the war. Other successor states of the Soviet Union, such as Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, are also experiencing a cultural renaissance.

This special issue by Apparatus as well as the goEast symposium itself will address these and related topics from a film-historical, political, sociological and aesthetic perspective. We also encourage papers that apply new theoretical and interdisciplinary approaches.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • the concept of decolonization in an Eastern European / (post-)Soviet context
  • indigenous cinematographies in the (post-)Soviet space
  • national cinematographies in post-Soviet countries
  • film heritage and archival policies in the (post-)Soviet space
  • depiction of non-Russian minorities in (post-)Soviet cinema between neo- and decolonisation
  • Ukrainian film heritage between rediscovery and an uncertain future
  • film school training for filmmakers from peripheral communities within Russia and other post-Soviet states
  • agents and strategies of decolonization and decolonizing aesthetics in (post)-Soviet cinema
  • decolonizing (post-)Soviet and Russian film studies

The editors invite scholars at all stages of their career to submit paper proposals for this special issue.

Please send your proposals in English by March 1st 2023 (400-word abstract, 3-5 references, 150-word bio, contact details, affiliation, if applicable) to Lukas M. Dominik ( and Irina Schulzki (

Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by April 1st 2023. The articles (no more than 6000 words, including notes, plus 3–4 images) are due by May 31st 2023. For the article, please use this online template which you can also download in any format.

All articles of this special issue will be made available digitally with open access immediately after publication. A physical publication is planned.