One Day About: The Work of Sergei Loznitsa

Date and time
18 May 2021 at 10:00 AM - 04:00 PM
Type of event
Place and route


The Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa’s remarkable documentary works have often managed to capture the tiny and untimely aspects of historical events. In his “compilation films” of important political mass events in Soviet history, gestures, gazes, tiny movements and facial expressions of the mass are observed and orchestrated. Loznitsa’s method of working with Soviet official historical film archive to cinematically deconstruct the cinematic illusion in filmic documentation does not only result in outstanding artworks but also valuable comparative contexts for critical humanities to look at their own methods in dealing with inherited memories and “uncomfortable legacies”.

His compilation of rare archive footage from the years of the siege of Leningrad (1941-44), The Blokade, was his first attempt in this direction.  Among Loznitsa’s later films the The Trial (Process) can be mentioned, for which Loznitsa used archival chronicles depicting the first of the Moscow Trials from 1930, premiered at la Biennale di Venezia in September the same year. The State Funeral, Loznitsa’s latest documentary film is made out of mostly unseen before archive footage from March 1953 and presents the funeral of Joseph Stalin as the culmination of the dictator’s personality cult.

This seminar is made in collaboration with Södertörn University, where the Centre for Baltic and East European Studies is launching the research project “Obliscense”, or forgetting or unforgetting the USSR thirty years after its collapse. The focus of this discussion is on film as the USSR’s most influential medium of collective imagination and collective memory. In the process of Soviet modernization, film served both as a powerful means of political organization and engagement, but, importantly, as a factor encouraging mimetic desire and the perception of reality through the images presented on the screen. Cinema was modernity’s chief witness and at the same time the prime medium of social organization. Its end coincided with the end of the “age of witnesses” in the culture of 20th century memory, followed by the appearance of new media and public sensitivities of post-memory. The purpose is to problematize these transformations in collaboration.

Loznitsa’s work is an interesting example of a micro-historical approach within filmic, documentary practice, but also an antidote to the international process of forgetting. The planned One Day-seminar will offer ideas and perspective for research and practice in moving images, as well as wider discussion of documentary strategies and the question of history writing.

10.00 Welcome by Magnus Bärtås, Head of Research, Konstfack

10.10–10.40 Introduction by Irina Sandomirskaja, professor of cultural studies, Södertörn University

10.50–12.00: Extracts with comments of two of Loznitsa’s works (The Trial and State Funeral)

13.00–14.10: Screening of The Event

14.30–14.50: Reflection by Dmitri Plax, author and artist

15.00–16.00: The Babi Yar project: Loznitsa’s ongoing documentary project is conceived as an attempt to reconstruct and visualize the historical context of the Babi Yar tragedy – a site in Ukraine of massacres of Jews carried out by German forces during their campaign against the Soviet Union 1941.

Sergei Loznitsa
was born in Belarus in 1964 and graduated from Kiev Polytechnic Institute with a degree in engineering and mathematics. From 1987 through 1991 he was employed as a scientist at the Institute of Cybernetics in Kiev (Ukraina). In 1991 he applied to the Russian Institute of Cinematography in Moscow, where he graduated in 1997 with the major in movie production and direction. From 2000 he had been producing works in the Studio of Documentary Films in St. Petersburg. In 2001 Loznitsa emigrated to Berlin with his family. He has directed 22 internationally acclaimed documentary and 4 feature films.

Magnus Bärtå 0704619650