Movie Club Richmond & Chop Suey Books present ‘Untold Tales from the Soviet Union’

The event takes place Saturday, January 30th at The Byrd Theatre in Carytown.

From Movie Club Richmond:

Movie Club Richmond and Chop Suey Books proudly present Untold Tales from the Soviet Union, an event that combines the award-winning documentary The Russian Woodpecker with a talk from Yvonne Howell, editor of the new collection Red Star Tales: A Century of Russian and Soviet Science Fiction.

This event will take place Saturday, January 30 at 2:00 pm at The Byrd Theatre (2908 W Cary St, Richmond, VA 23221). Richmond artist Noah Scalin, author of Skull-A-Day, will introduce The Russian Woodpecker. A book signing by Howell and Scalin will follow film.

The Russian Woodpecker follows Fedor Alexandrovich, an artist who was four years old in 1986, when he was exposed to the toxic effects of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown. Now 33, he has a singular obsession with the catastrophe — why did it happen? Was there more to it than the Soviet government let on? And, most importantly, what did it have to do with the giant steel pyramid now rotting two miles from the disaster site, a hulking Cold War weapon nicknamed “the Russian Woodpecker” for the strange, constant clicking it emits? In director Chad Gracia’s documentary thriller, Alexandrovich returns to the radioactive Exclusion Zone to find answers — and to decide whether to risk his life by revealing them. The Russian Woodpecker is winner of the Sundance Film Festival’s 2015 World Documentary Grand Jury Prize and the International Documentary Association’s 2015 Award for Cinematography.

For over a century, most science fiction produced in Russia has been beyond the reach of Western readers. Yvonne Howell’s Red Star Tales changes that, finally bringing a large body of influential work into the English orbit: a scientist keeps a severed head alive, and the head lives to tell the tale; an explorer experiences life on the moon, in a story written six decades before the first moon landing; electrical appliances respond to human anxieties and threaten to crash the electrical grid; and more. The last 100 years in Russia have seen an astonishing diversity and depth of literary works in the science fiction genre, created by authors with a dizzying array of styles. This new volume collects 18 such works, translated into English for the first time, spanning from path-breaking, pre-revolutionary works of the 1890s, through the difficult Stalinist era, to post-Soviet stories of the 1980s and 1990s.

Yvonne Howell is a professor of Russian and International Studies at the University of Richmond. She is the author of Apocalypse Realism: The Science Fiction of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky (1994), as well as numerous articles on the relationship between scientific progress and humanist thought in comparative international contexts. She teaches and translates Russian and Czech literature.

Noah Scalin is the creator of the Webby Award-winning project Skull-A-Day. He is author of five books, including Skull-A-Day from Chop Suey Books Books, which features all 365 of his original daily skull art creations. His work has been exhibited in museums and galleries internationally, including the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, the International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago and Krause Gallery in NYC. He is also the creator of the collaborative science fiction universe & performance art project League of Space Pirates.

For additional information about the event, the film or the book, please contact Andrew Blossom ( or Ward Tefft (

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Trevor Dickerson

Trevor Dickerson loves all things Richmond and manages RVANews’ West of the Boulevard and West End community sites.

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