Film Archive

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My Unknown Soldier

Documentary Film
Czech Republic,
Latvia,
Slovakia
2018
79 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Michal Kráčmer, Sergei Serpuhov
Anna Kryvenko
Andris Dzenitis, Yair Elazar Glotman, David Střeleček
Radka Šišuláková
Daria Chernyak
Anna Kryvenko
Viktor Krivosudský
The Prague Spring, Soviet tanks, the invasion of Warsaw Pact troops, the epoch-making year of 1968: the starting points of a family history between Czechia, Ukraine and Russia. “The occupation translates to a man with a dachshund being entitled to yell at a young girl in a tram because he can’t tell Ukrainian and Russian apart.”

A series of family album photos from which a man was removed sets Anna Kryvenko, a Ukrainian who studies film in Prague, on the trail of her great-uncle: the “unknown soldier”, to whom so many monuments are dedicated that one almost forgets that this sweeping gesture of remembrance refers to concrete faces, names, dates of birth and death, biographies cut short. After some initial hesitation the filmmaker’s family break their silence and gradually the pieces combine to form a new picture in which family and world history intersect.

Fabian Tietke


Nominated for the MDR Film Prize

Putin’s Witnesses

Documentary Film
Czech Republic,
Latvia,
Switzerland
2018
107 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Natalya Manskaya, Gabriela Bussmann, Vít Klusák, Filip Remunda
Vitaly Mansky
Kārlis Auzāns
Gunta Ikere
Vitaly Mansky
Anrijs Krenbergs
“The state is like a garden,” says Putin’s old form teacher’s husband, “you have to destroy the weed so that something worthwhile grows.” “We’ll do just that,” the lifetime president-to-be answers almost shyly and leaves his teacher’s flat, which he visited to shoot an advertising clip directed by Vitaly Mansky who, as the country’s leading documentary filmmaker, was allowed to follow and record the campaign. After 18 years of concrete rule by the little man with the strong hands, the long-emigrated director looks back at the fateful year of 2000 and reviews his footage. What he discovers is breathtaking and has the emotionalising power of an almost intimate home video. The Mansky family already dread the new Mao while Yeltsin’s clan is jubilant at first and ex-Tsar Boris even sees his successor Vladimir as the guarantee of real media freedom –later he disgustedly calls the pivotal turn-back “krasnenko” (reddish). Putin himself talks about reasons of state and an autocratic life which he intends to avoid at all costs. Finally, the question whether it was right to reanimate the old Soviet hymn with quasi new lyrics becomes a bone of contention in the duel Putin vs. Mansky. The sad conclusion is that nobody was just a “witness”. Everybody played a part in the many compromises made in hopes of a “better life.”

Barbara Wurm