The Desert of Forbidden Art Virtual Film Screening

The Desert of Forbidden Art poster, with an image of Igor Savitsky and an artistic montage of Soviet avant garde art image fragments

A true story to save cultural treasures...

The Desert of Forbidden Art is a beautiful, poignant, award-winning documentary telling the remarkable story of how Igor Savitsky created one of the world's great collections of Russian avant garde art. The New York Times describes it as: "A gorgeous documentary. The filmmakers let the art do the talking, with loving, lingering shots of the brightly colored works." Filmmakers Amanda Pope and Chavdar Georgiev will introduce the film and be available for questions and comments after the screening. Zukhra Kasimova, historian of the museum he created, will also be available to answer questions after the film. 

The screening will be Thursday, October 1, 2020 beginning at 8pm. Please RSVP by replying to this email with your name and academic or professional affiliation before noon on Wednesday, September 30. Zoom invitations will be sent 24 hours before the event. We will limit the audience to facilitate discussion, so please do not wait to RSVP. We hope you can join us for this fascinating true story!

Introduction and post-film Q&A with filmmakers Amanda Pope and Chavdar Georgiev. Zukhra Kasimova, the historian of the museum Savitsky created, will also join the post-film Q&A.

What: Virtual film screening

Where: On Zoom

When: Thursday, October 1 at 8 p.m. 

RSVP by noon Wednesday, September 30 in an email to with your name and current institutional (university or employer) affiliations.

An Evening of Hot Jazz Igor Butman and the Moscow Jazz Orchestra concert

Hot Jazz with Igor Butman and the Moscow Jazz Orchestra

On 3 February 2020, the Carmel Institute for Russian Culture and History invited university students to enjoy an evening with Igor Butman and his Moscow Jazz Orchestra. Described as "an outfit of virtuosos" by DownBeat Magazine -- the jazz world's publication of note -- the 16-piece Moscow Jazz Orchestra is led by Russia's most popular and esteemed jazzman, saxophonist Igor Butman. Butman's collaborations read like a Who's Who of jazz superstars, including appearances and work with Wynton Marsalis, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Grover Washington, Jr., and Lionel Hampton. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton once called Butman "the greatest living jazz saxophone player, who happens to be a Russian."

Fall 2020 Events

  • Virtual Film Screening
    The Desert of Forbidden Art
    Zoom virtual screening
    1 October 2020, 8 pm

    Virtual Film Screening
    Hermitage Dwellers
    Zoom virtual screening
    29 October 2020, 8 p

AU Summer Course 2019 "Pushkin's Russia"

The Carmel Institute sponsored students to attend Professor Anton Fedyashin's AU Summer Course. The course took ten students to St. Petersburg, Moscow and other Russian locations to explore Russian culture in person. Students walked the Russian capitals, visited museums, and attended cultural events to experience Russian culture first-hand.

Students combined readings with their museum and art gallery visits and concerts in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and beyond. They explored the formation of Russia's national identity through Alexander Pushkin's poetry and prose in the context of the Napoleonic Wars and the era of Romanticism.

An Evening with Fashion and Friends

Symposium at Hillwood Estate Museum and Gardens

On 30 March 2018, guests explored a captivating picture of diplomatic life in early nineteenth-century St. Petersburg through forty-five portraits from an album assembled by the family of politician and statesman Henry Middleton. Carmel Institute Director Anton Fedyashin provided the historical and political context of American-Russian relations during Henry Middleton's post as American Minister to Russia in the 1820s and 30s and Dr. Rosalind Blakesley placed the portraits assembled in the Middleton album in the history of Russian portraiture during the era.

Lexo Toradze Performance and Lecture

World-Renowned pianist at American University

In Katzen Arts Center on March 22, 2018, world-renowned pianist Mr. Lexo Toradze performed and lectured about the revolutionary changes in Russian and Soviet music after 1917 -- the experimentalism of Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich, the evolution of Soviet jazz, and the role of music during the Second World War. The audience also enjoyed a question-and-answer discussion with the artist after his performance.

The Russian Experiment


The Carmel Institute partnered with the PostClassical Ensemble to present a concert-symposium with world-renowned pianist Vladimir Feltsman, October 19, 2017, at AU's Katzen Arts Center.

See more event highlights at Carmel Institute News.