When war is called peace, when propaganda is uttered as truth, when hatred is declared to be love, then life itself begins to resemble death. In the Donbass, a region of Eastern Ukraine, a hybrid war takes place, involving an open armed conflict alongside mass scale robberies perpetrated by gangs. Read More »
In eastern Ukraine, society begins to degrade as the effects of propaganda and manipulation begin to surface in this post-truth era. Read More »
A woman lives alone on the outskirts of a village in Russia. One day she receives a parcel she sent to her incarcerated husband, marked ‘return to sender’. Shocked and confused, the woman has no choice but to travel to the prison in a remote region of the country in search of an explanation. So begins the story of a battle against this impenetrable fortress, the prison where the forces of social evil are constantly at work. Braving violence and humiliation, in the face of all opposition, our protagonist embarks on a blind quest for justice. Read More »
There are places in Europe that have remained as painful memories of the past – factories where humans were turned into ash. These places are now memorial sites that are open to the public and receive thousands of tourists every year. The film’s title refers to the eponymous novel written by W.G. Sebald, dedicated to the memory of Holocaust. This film is an observation of the visitors to a memorial site that has been founded on the territory of a former concentration camp. Why do they go there? What are they looking for? Read More »
It begins with slow, 360 grade pans of a camera showing snowy countryside somewhere in Russia. The soundtrack has some natural voices.
The camera then is set at a bus stop in a Russian village. It continues to pan into the same direction, showing people waiting, talking to each other, drinking beer, staring, giving an occasional glance at the camera. The soundtrack is clearly from a different source than the pictures, but similar to the world of images. It has elderly people talking about their hard everyday life: sicknesses, alcoholism, dire poverty, violent drunken husbands, poor hospitals etc. etc. The voices curse, argue…
The people start gradually crowd into a full bus, they get in, and the buses leave. Read More »
In August 1991 a failed coup d’e´tat attempt (known as Putsch) led by a group of hard-core communists in Moscow, ended the 70-year-long rule of the Soviets. The USSR collapsed soon after, and the tricolour of the sovereign Russian Federation flew over Kremlin. As president Gorbachev was detained by the coup leaders, state-run tv and radio channels, usurped by the putschists, broadcast Tchaikovsky’s swan lake instead of news bulletins, and crowds of protestors gathered around Moscow’s White House, preparing to defend the stronghold of democratic opposition led by Boris Yeltsin, in the city of Leningrad thousands of confused, scared, excited and desperate people poured into the streets to become a part of the event, which was supposed to change their destiny. A quarter of a century later, Sergei Loznitsa revisits the dramatic moments of August 1991 and casts an eye on the event which was hailed worldwide as the birth of “Russian democracy.” What really happened in Russia in August 1991? What was the driving force behind the crowds on the Palace Square in Leningrad? What exactly are we witnessing: the collapse or the regime or its’ creative re-branding? Who are these people looking at the camera: victors or victims? Read More »
The 2014 Astra Film Festival’s Focus Loznitsa now presents his latest documentary Maidan, alongside three of his earlier works—The Train stop(2000), Landscape (2003) and Blockade (2005)—as well as a panel discussion related to the concept of “authorship” within film-making between Sergei Loznitsa and Cristi Puiu, moderated by Neil Young (film critic, UK).
Questions arising include:
* What happens when the texture of the film is composed of images recorded directly from the immediate mundanity of the world around us?
* What happens to the position of the filmaker as author engaged in an existential understanding of the world while, for example, shooting in the central square Kiev amid full revolutionary turmoil?
* Can the film-maker avoid or resist the direct expression of his/her own political stance?
* Cinema is established as a very strong medium and, throughout its history, has been misused as a dangerous means of mass manipulation, especially when the language of the film espouses and expresses a particular political position. What is the correct standpoint of a filmmaker as an author in this situation?
* What is the role of a filmmaker concerned with the controversies of a society undergoing dramatic transformation?
The panel discussion takes place after the screening of the film Maidan Read More »