The cinema of Russia began in the Russian Empire, widely developed under the Soviet and in the years following the fall of the Soviet system, the Russian film industry would remain internationally recognized. In the 21st century, Russian cinema has become popular internationally with hits such as Dom Durakov, Nochnoi Dozor, and the exceptionally popular Brat.
Aleksandr Drankov produced the first Russian narrative film, Stenka Razin, based on events told in a popular folk song and directed by Vladimir Romashkov. Ladislas Starevich made the first Russian animated film (and the first stop motion puppet film with a story) in 1910 - Lucanus Cervus. Among the notable Russian filmmakers of the era were Aleksandr Khanzhonkov and Ivan Mozzhukhin, who made Oborona Sevastopolya (The Defense of Sevastopol) in 1912. Yakov Protazanov made Ukhod Velikovo Startsa (Departure of the Grand Old Man), a biographical film about Lev Tolstoy.
During World War I, imports dropped drastically, and Russian filmmakers turned out anti-German, nationalistic films. In 1916, 499 films were made in Russian, more than three times the number of just three years earlier.
The Russian Revolution brought more change, with a number of films with anti-Tsarist themes. The last significant film of the era, made in 1917, Father Sergius (Otets Sergii) would become the first new film release of the Soviet era.
Under the Soviet system, the Socialist realism movement was fostered, which carried over from painting and sculpture into filmmaking. Notable films of the era include Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin, which was released to wide acclaim in 1925. One of the most popular films released in 1930s was Circus. Notable films from 1940s include Aleksandr Nevsky and Ivan Grozny.
Immediately after the end of the Second World War, the Soviet color movies such as "The Stone Flower" (Каменный цветок, 1947), "Ballad of Siberia" (Сказание о земле Сибирской, 1947), and "The Kuban Cossacks" (Кубанские казаки, 1949) were released. In the late 1950s and early 1960s Soviet cinema, beginning with films such as Ballada o Soldate Ballad of a Soldier that won the 1961 BAFTA Award for Best Film and The Cranes Are Flying. Vysota (Height) is considered to be one of the best films of the 1950s (it also became the foundation of the Bard movement).
The 1970s brought many fine films, including Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris; Seventeen Instants of Spring (Semnadtsat mgnoveniy vesny), which created the immortal character of Standartenführer Stirlitz; White Sun of the Desert (Beloe Solntze Pustyni) (1970), and "Ostern" – the Soviet Union's own take on the Western genre.