Milestone Films

Early Russian Cinema, Volume 4: Provincial Variations



Unsurprisingly, the early Russian cinema industry was predominantly urban and concentrated mainly in Moscow. But as the audience grew rapidly, smaller provincial entrepreneurs sought to establish themselves in what had become a highly profitable business. The two films in this program are examples of how this also introduced novelty into the mainstream of production.

Slavinskii’s own account (from a 1940 interview) of how he came to make The Wedding Day is revealing. He recalled being asked by “Mr. Mintus owner of a film distribution company in Warsaw’’ to make some art films. The concept of the film d’art had recently been popularized by Pathé’s successful development of the original French examples. But as Slavinskii explained “to tell the truth, it was not really a matter of making real films d’art but rather shooting material of a documentary type.”

He continued: “In a small town in Silesia I met a travelling company of Jews whose performances were immensely successful in many Polish cities and we made some films together. We had no proper director and our productions were the result of collective effort.’’ Nonetheless, they were apparently successful, which we may assume was due to the exotic novelty and obvious authenticity of such material as The Wedding Day.

Merchant Bashkirov’s Daughter offers a remarkable insight into the sociology of the early Russian cinema industry. For Libken based his first production closely on an actual murder scandal — apparently with the intention of blackmailing the Bashkirov family! Whether they paid up or threatened legal action, the result was a solemn announcement in the trade press that the film would be released under the less specific title, Drama on the Volga, “because the heroine’s surname is identical to that of some well-known merchants in a certain town on the Volga — by sheer coincidence of course.” Thanks to the surrounding publicity, Libken also managed to sell his independent production to Pathé.

The film itself, despite such murky origins (and two missing reels), impresses as one of the most unexpected of all early Russian titles preserved. Nothing in our experience of Western popular movie morality prepares us for the lover’s accidental death and the horrific sequence of events that follows. Is such a non-moralizing perspective, especially associated with heroines, a distinctive feature of Russian cinema — or is it in some way a result of this film’s determined search for sensationalism? There may not be enough evidence to decide, but this fragment poses a tantalizing challenge.

THE WEDDING DAY (Den’venchaniia or Yom Hakhupe).Director/Photography: Evgenii Slavinskii. Based on a play by Iakov Gordin. Producer: S. Mintus (Riga). 1912. Release unknown. Cast: Artists from a troupe of Jewish travelling players.

MERCHANT BASHKIROV’S DAUGHTER (Doch’ kuptsa Bashkirova). Alternative title: Drama on the Volga (Drama na Volge). Director/Screenplay: Nikoloi Larin. Photography: I. Dored. Producer: Grigorii Libken. Production Company: Volga Co. (Iarolslavl’). Released November 19, 1913. Cast: unknown.

This DVD is also available for Institutional Purchase, which includes public performance rights and a 3-year streaming license. Please click on the “Format” button and select “DVD Institutional Rate.”

 An Explanation of Home, Classroom, and Public Performance Rights

Individuals and non-profit institutions purchasing at the DVD, DVD-R, or Blu-ray rate — or streaming at published rental and sales prices — are authorized to use the film only for private home screening and legitimate classroom showing (a regularly scheduled class with an instructor present), per the United States Copyright Law. You can learn more about the distinction between classroom and public performance screenings here.


US and Canadian nonprofit educational institutions that wish to show a film publicly outside of a scheduled class need to purchase DVDs, DVD-Rs, and Blu-rays at the institutional rate — which grants 3-year in-house streaming rights and an on-site public performance license. This in-house streaming license is for a term of three years from the date of purchase and grants the purchasing institution the right to stream over a single secure server with a password-protected connection. Streaming access must be strictly limited to currently enrolled students, faculty, and staff. Streaming rights extensions can be negotiated with Milestone after the initial three-year term has lapsed. Milestone retains the right to terminate this agreement at any time. No broadcast, Internet or other rights are granted or implied.These rights are for on-site use only per the license agreement. For more information on 

Similarly, US and Canadian nonprofit educational institutions that wish to show a film publicly outside of a scheduled class via Milestone’s streaming site must contact Milestone to arrange a separate public performance license. For more information, please email 

US and Canadian nonprofit educational institutions that wish to screen a DVD, DVD-R, or Blu-ray they already own in an open showing must purchase a public performance license. For more information, please email 

The purchase of DVDs, DVD-Rs, and Blu-rays at the institutional rate by anyone outside of a North American non-profit educational institution does not grant rights for public performance or streaming.

Any continuous or loop screenings as part of a museum exhibition must also be licensed separately. Inquiries must be negotiated directly with Milestone by emailing

Information for Exhibitors Screening DCPs and Film Prints

All bookings must be made by phone or email correspondence with Amy Heller (201.767.3117 or to negotiate terms and insure a screening copy is available. An order is only finalized when Milestone sends a written confirmation.

DCPs are shipped insured for their cost via Federal Express or UPS and must be returned the same way or by an equivalent method. Shipping and handling charges for outgoing DCPs appear on your invoice. The immediate return or transshipment (as directed) of all DCPs is your responsibility.

DCPs should be returned to:

Milestone Film & Video
38 George Street
Harrington Park, New Jersey 07640-0128
United States 

35mm and 16mm prints are shipped insured for their cost via Federal Express or UPS and must be returned the same way or by an equivalent method. Please do not ship prints back via US Mail. Exhibitor pays to ship both ways. Shipping and handling charges for outgoing prints appear on your invoice. The immediate return of all prints is your responsibility.

Prints should be returned insured for $1,000 to:

Iron Mountain
Attn: Milestone Account
235 Main Street
Little Falls, NJ 07424

For public screenings, advertising materials can be requested by contacting

Milestone is the exclusive licensor for all the titles in this catalog, all of which are available here in their complete versions.


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