[La verità di Fedka] T. int.: Fedka’s Truth. Sog.: dal racconto Fed’ka-oborvanec di Vladimir Vinničenko. Scen.: Alksandr Pereguda. F.: Aleksandr Grinberg. Scgf.: Ivan Sukiasov. Autore delle didascalie: Nikolaj Aseev. Int.: Jura Zimin (Fed’ka), Marik Maj (Tolja), Evgenija Trubeckaja (madre di Fed’ka), Elena Dejneko (madre di Tolja), Daniil Vvedenskij (capo della tipografia), Tamara Timčenko (cameriera), Nonna Timčenko, Jurij Timčenko (bambini), Leonid Pirogov, A. Karpov. Prod.: Goskino (1° Stabilimento) Pri. pro.: 23 marzo 1926. 35mm. L.: 1034 m. D.: 50’ a 20 f/s. Bn.
Fedka’s Truth is interesting on many levels, beginning with its literary source. Today, the story Fed’ka-oborvanec is considered a classic of Ukrainian literature, included in most academic curricula. In 1926 however the author of the story, Vladimir Vinnicˇenko, was unpopular with the Soviet regime. A socialist, imprisoned for a number of years in Czarist jails, translator of Kautsky and Paul Lafargue, following the revolution of February 1917 he began to play a role in the nationalist Ukrainian government, as Interior Minister. Later emigrating, he became critical of Bolshevik actions and Vinnicˇenko’s literary work was condemned by Maksim Gor’kij and by Lenin, who described one of his novels “a poor imitation of an already miserable Dostoevskij”. That notwithstanding, throughout the Twenties the work of this nationalist in exile continued to be published and even adapted to the big screen. The film tells the story of two children: the impoverished Fed’ka and the wealthy Tolja. The rich child is attracted by the poor one, but continually lets him be accused of their common misdemeanors. When Fedka saves his friend’s life and sacrifices his own, Tolja, by no means upset by the loss, is finally able to possess the pocketknife of the dead boy. This sentimental story, conveying an obvious social message, has an important place in the filmography of these pre-revolutionary stars who during the Twenties were for the most part relegated to the margins of film production. Fedka’s Truth is the only completely autonomous work by Ol’ga Preobraženskaja (who had previously collaborated with Gardin and subsequently Pravov). It owes its content to the new era, but it’s style to pre-revolutionary cinema: the acting is rife with mimicry and heightened gestures, and the direction, cinematography and art direction show no interest whatsoever in realism. Even exterior scenes shot on location look theatrical (albeit well designed). Furthermore the director of photography Aleksandr Grinberg, whom critics of the period respected for his “true photography”, was a principle exponent of the Russian avant-garde and of pictorialism in the photographic arts. The renowned Soviet poet Nikolaj Aseev, known principally for his frenetic original story for The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks by Kulešov, wrote the utterly neutral and impersonal title cards. One gets the impression that this is a rather ordinary work, made on commission however by enormous professional talents. According to the press accounts of the era, the film was nevertheless received well by both critics and the public.