One of Ukraine’s most celebrated filmmakers returns with a patiently observational take on the power of nationalism and the mythology behind Russia’s ritualistic Soviet-era patriotism.
Every year, a sea of red descends on Treptower Park in Berlin on May 9, aka Victory Day, to celebrate the Red Army’s defeat of the Third Reich in WWII. Acclaimed director Sergei Loznitsa (A Gentle Creature, MIFF 2017; The Event, MIFF 2016; Maidan, MIFF 2014) captures in sharp clarity its singing, dancing, vodka-swilling and even a dog-drawn wagon wheeling around a portrait of Stalin! His rigorous editing and restrained camerawork translate this most fascinating and obscure ceremony into a remarkable treatise on the stories we tell ourselves in order to sleep through the night.
Similar in style and tone to his black and white documentary Austerlitz (MIFF 2017) – which trained the camera on selfie-taking tourists at concentration camp memorials – Loznitsa has once again found a fascinating way to observe the intersection of contemporary society and Holocaust remembrance in his adopted home of Germany. Using still, unobtrusive long-takes, he acts as a witness to the preparations, festivities, reflections and sometimes comic rituals of this rowdy group of flag-waving patriots.
"Delivered with his trademark radical directness ... Victory Day seems so simple, but it is properly complex: a conflicted memorial to a conflicted memorial." – Variety