Film Archive

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The Dybbuk. A Tale of Wandering Souls

Documentary Film
Poland,
Sweden,
Ukraine
2015
90 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Krzysztof Kopczyński, David Herdies, Gennady Kofman
Krzysztof Kopczyński
Jacek Petrycki, Serhiy Stefan Stetsenko
Michał Leszczyłowski
Krzysztof Kopczyński
Mateusz Adamczyk, Marcin Lenarczyk, Sebastian Witkowski
Right at the start, an excerpt from the Yiddish-language Polish 1930s classic “The Dybbuk” opens an old wound: the world of the shtetl with its old folk beliefs has vanished. But the spirit of the dead, the Dibbuk, is still walking among us. And it has many faces.

We re-emerge from the past to find ourselves in the Ukrainian town of Uman just before “Euromaidan”. A sacred place for thousands of orthodox Jews who make the pilgrimage to the grave of the Hassidic rabbi Nachman and transform the town, annoying the Ukrainian citizens who are afraid of a sell-out and react with provocations. Sometimes it’s an illegally raised cross, sometimes an information board in honour of the anti-Semitic Cossack leader and butcher Ivan Gonta. Or, rather more subtly, extra fees for kosher snacks.

The worlds clash on many levels. With great curiosity, Krzysztof Kopczyński captures the almost incompatible legends and rituals that come alive on both sides. On the one hand a completely impoverished country in the process of finding its identity, accompanied by nationalistic overtones. On the other hand a lost tradition and the experience of the Holocaust. Who owns the country? The film mines a wealth of material full of impressions, rough scenes and fables to bring the unexpected to light.

Lars Meyer

The Event

Documentary Film
Belgium,
Netherlands
2015
74 minutes
subtitles: 
English

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"