Soviet Bus Stops: A Film About Urban Architecture

Coming up at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival is Soviet Bus Stops. Read more about VIFF and the film below.


By: Kennedy Randall

After much anticipation, the Vancouver International Film Festival is returning at the end of the month. In the past 41 years VIFF has become one of Vancouver’s most beloved film festivals will be running from September 29th to October 9th showcasing over 130 feature films and 100 short films.


InFocus Film School has partnered with VIFF to showcase Soviet Bus Stops, one of many fantastic films screening this year. Directed by Kristoffer Hegnsvad, Soviet Bus Stops follows Canadian photographer Christopher Herwig. From Ukraine to Uzbekistan, Armenia to Far Eastern Siberia, Herwig sets out to document a piece of urban architecture in former Soviet Republics that may be considered ordinary and benign – bus stops. 

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From the 1960s and 70s, the architecture of the Soviet Regime was largely utilitarian and mass-produced. What Herwig finds on his travels is profoundly different; bus stops that are creative and whimsical. Architecture within the Soviet period was highly monitored and totalitarian following a uniform style. However, bus stops are often a negligible part of the urban landscape, and these revolutionary structures ended up being overlooked. Therefore, these roadside fixtures artistically represent a place and time in history, built as quiet acts of creativity against overwhelming state control. 

soviet bus stops

Although, despite their radical nature and innovation, these bus stops are seen by many as strange or embarrassing. This is, unfortunately, leading many of them to be torn down. “These bus stops are disappearing so fast. If I come back a year from now, they could be gone, demolished, or rebuilt. These pictures may be all that’s left in the end. I want to give them some kind of immorality,” Herwig reflects.


Shot over seven years, Soviet Bus Stops follows Herwig on his journey to capture these bus stops and memorialize them through film. He meets some of the humble and eccentric bus stop creators from various former Soviet Republics to hear their stories about how these unique structures came to exist.

soviet bus stops

Herwig’s photography books of the bus stops have become bestsellers around the world. Hegnsvad’s documentation of this process turns this unusual journey into an engaging film about human connectivity, photography, politics, and history. In so doing, Herwig and Hegnsvad both commemorate the stories of these bus stops through their chosen medium, sharing a relatively unknown subject with wider audiences.

The stories of individuals who created small acts of resistance are embedded in the poetry and art of the remaining bus stops and become honoured, protected, and celebrated in these mediums.

soviet bus stops

InFocus Film School is proud to be the community partner for such an unforgettable film. Purchase your tickets for either screening on October 2nd at The Cinematheque or October 4th at International Village 8 here.

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