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State Funeral

Sergueï Loznitsa
Netherlands, Italy, 2019
Production : Atoms & Void

Français, Anglais


The state funeral organised for Joseph Stalin was the peak of the cult of his personality. Drawing on archive images, highly respected director Sergei Loznitsa composes a staggering symphony that looks History right in the eyes. Simultaneously grotesque and sublime, "State Funeral" exposes the regime of terror.

Latitudes Section - Visions du Réel 2020

Tënk's film review

On the death of Joseph Stalin, 5 March 1953, the State funeral organised in his honour represented the highest peak of the cult of his personality. The event was staged as much as it was abundantly filmed, which is why the archival materials amassed by Sergei Loznitsa are filled with riches. Through staggering editing work on the visual and sound materials, the filmmaker composes a symphony detailing each phase of this grotesque and macabre ritual. Being above all a question of a show, albeit funeral, the film reveals its nature by showing the symbolic impact of Stalin’s death as experienced by the crowd. In the face of these thousands of bodies bowing down before the figure of the tyrant, we read the fear there, exposing the Soviet Union under Stalin for what it was, a regime of terror. Loznitsa places the spectator in the heart of the collective and forces them to look History right in the eyes. As sublime as it is disturbing, "State Funeral" captures the power of the documentary image to give it back to the people.

Tom Bidou
Visions du Réel

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Sergueï Loznitsa

Sergueï Loznitsa, born in 1964 in Belo-Russia (at the time in the USSR), is a Ukrainian director whose documentary work is sometimes on the edge of the experimental. He is a scientist, a specialist in artificial intelligence and a translator of Japanese. After this professional life, Sergueï Loznitsa decided to change his life and went to Moscow to train at the National Institute of Cinematography (VGIK), from which he graduated in 1997. In 2001, he moved with his family to Germany. He has directed 18 documentaries that have won awards at international festivals. His two feature films, "My Joy" (2010) and "Dans la Brume" (2012) were selected at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2014, he shot "Maidan" during the Ukrainian revolution (screened in Cannes). In 2015, "L'Evénement" is presented in Venice. His 2016 documentary, "Austerlitz", follows the journey of tourists in the concentration camps. He then directed two documentaries, "Victory Day" and "The Trial" and a fiction, "Donbass" (Best Director Award at Un Certain Regard). His latest film, "State Funeral", premiered in Venice.

Other films in the collection: Cream of the screens