Russian cinema occupies an important and distinctive place within world film culture. It rose to prominence in the 1920s through the revolutionary (in all senses) films and film theory of Sergei Eisenstein, Vsevolod Pudovkin, Dziga Vertov and others and maintained its distinction through the early years of socialist realism, a unique media system in which film was recognized, in Lenin’s saying, as “the most important of the arts.” After Stalin’s death Russian film re-captivated its revolutionary energy amidst the “Soviet new wave,” characterized by the films of Mikhail Kalatozov, Sergei Paradzhanov and Andrei Tarkovsky. In recent years film has continued to play a crucial role in defining and animating a post-Soviet cultural identity, both through poetic filmmakers as Aleksandr Sokurov and through genre films. We will survey this history, from 1917 right up to the present moment, with a selection of the most energizing films and theoretical writings by their makers. We will examine how a national style gets established and maintained; how film form and film style have responded to the pressures of ideology and power; how film art has served both as a tool of colonialization and identity-formation; and how film artists have negotiated the pressures of cultural tradition (including that of the Russian novel) and the world film market.