Location la: Redstone Theater
Followed by a discussion with director Sergei Loznitsa and Jochen Hellbeck, Distinguished Professor of History at Rutgers University, moderated by film critic J. Hoberman
Dir. Sergei Loznitsa. Ukraine. 2018, 127 mins. In Russian with English subtitles. Sergei Loznitsa’s latest found footage documentary is comprised of painstakingly researched and restored black-and-white footage from one of Joseph Stalin’s first show trials, recorded in 1930 in Moscow. The trial and its consequences are real, while the crime is fake—a spectacle concocted by Stalin’s government to buoy his political intentions and cement his standing. All charged with seeking to sabotage the USSR at the behest of French Prime Minister Raymond Poincaré and other Western leaders, one accused man after another confesses to crimes they never actually committed. Furthermore they do so convincingly, dutifully playing the part of traitors for an audience of their fellow citizens—also occasionally seen subjected to the harsh glare of lighting and the de facto surveillance of the camera. Without ever leaving 1930, Loznitsa has made a film that’s also entirely about today. U.S. premiere.
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Presented with support from the Harriman Institute and its Ukrainian Studies Program at Columbia University