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The Event

Documentary Film
74 minutes

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Sergei Loznitsa, Maria Choustova, Nicola Mazzanti
Sergei Loznitsa
Sergei Loznitsa, Danielius Kokanauskis
Sergei Loznitsa
Vladimir Golovnitski
As in earlier films, Sergei Loznitsa uses black and white archive material to reconstruct, if not construct, history. In this case images of the historic event that inaugurated the final collapse of the Soviet Union: the failed coup of 19 August 1991. People are standing in the streets of St. Petersburg, which was still called Leningrad then. The camera moves through the crowds, capturing faces whose expression is one of ignorance. They are all waiting, listening to the endless announcements.

Loznitsa’s ingenious artistic intervention happens on the soundtrack. During the three-day coup d’état, the national television of the USSR continuously broadcast – as usual in crisis situations – recordings of Tchaikovsky’s ballet “Swan Lake”. The director takes up the musical motif and uses it to divide his film into chapters. Radio reports are another narrative element which Loznitsa turns into a quasi comment that underlines the state of insecurity, not knowing and non-information. This is not a re-interpretation of history, though, but rather an attempt to pierce the surface of reality and look for possible interpretations – in the hope of gaining insights into how insurgencies and changes of power work in general.

Zaza Rusadze

Award winner of the Film Prize "Leipziger Ring"