The Faces of Russian Peasants: Two Films by Sergei Loznitsa
Sunday, February 12, 2017, 7:30pm
Los Angeles Filmforum presents
The Faces of Russian Peasants: Two Films by Sergei Loznitsa
At the Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Ukranian-born filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa is one of the most heralded filmmakers in Europe, but is still little known in America. Educated originally in mathematics, Loznitsa moved to filmmaking after the fall of the Soviet Union, and has been producing a series of documentaries since the mid-1990s looking at life in a wide array of places and events: portraits of small towns, fishing communities in Siberia, recoveries of political unrest, tourists in Nazi concentration camps. Hes been the subject of a retrospective at the Documentary Festival of Amsterdam, often considered the leading doc festival in Europe. In recent years he has been working in scripted narrative films as well, making tow films that have premiered at Cannes.
Generously supported by the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, Filmforum is bringing Loznitsa to Los Angeles for his first time in late February, for in-person screenings at Filmforum, UCLA, Cal Arts, and Cinefamily. To lead up to Loznitsas visit, Filmforum presents two of his earlier works, the award-winning films Portrait and Landscape. These highly structured, gentle, painterly looks at Russian peasants might well resonate for fans of James Benning or Serge Dvortsevoy, or other slow cinema artists. Utterly absorbing and gorgeous works.
An extended discussion of these two films: Menacing Peasants, by Moritz Pfeifer, East European Film Bulletin, April 27, 2012, https://eefb.org/archive/april-2012/goeast-2012/loznitsa-2-peasant-documentaries/
Interview with Loznitsa in Variety: http://variety.com/2016/film/festivals/sergei-loznitsa-art-life-new-film-a-gentle-creature-idfa-1201923368/
Tickets: $10 general; $6 for students/seniors; free for Filmforum members. Available in advance from Brown Paper Tickets at or at the door.
For more information: www.lafilmforum.org or 323-377-7238
2002, 28 min., b/w, mono, 35 mm
This movie is a collection of still pictures of residents of Russian countryside. Not a single word. Only long look into the camera. Landscape. Flow of time.
Awards include Grand Prix Oberhausen International Film Festival, Gemany, 2003; 'Silber Taube' Leipzig International Documentary Film Festival, Gemany, 2002; Best Documentary "Les Ecran documentaries" Internetional Film Festival, Paris, France, 2003
In Portrait we see whole body portraits simulating still life photographs. Sometimes these photographic stagings have a comical effect. For example when a man cuts wood without moving his saw in one scene, or when a woman stands paralyzed in the middle of the road pushing a cart in another. The still-life imitations in Portraits are archival. Frame after frame we see peasants of an indeterminable epoch, looking back at us as if from out of a photo album. These people are almost like objects, statues maybe, of things we love but for which we no longer have a use, whose customs might have been important once but no longer affect us. Without wanting to appear cynical, there is a striking similarity of these these pictures with the archival photography of Bernd and Hilla Becher. - Moritz Pfeifer, Menacing Peasants, East European Film Bulletin, April 27, 2012, https://eefb.org/archive/april-2012/goeast-2012/loznitsa-2-peasant-documentaries/
2003, Russia, color, sound, 35mm, 60 min.
Cinematographer: Pavel Kostomarov
Less is more for Landscape, an austere but absorbing formalist exercise consisting entirely of left-to-right tracking shots depicting people waiting for a bus in the Russian town of Okulovka (Variety).
Portrait seems to be about the disappearance of rural life, and it documents this disappearance in a distanced, quasi-scientific way. Landscape is exactly the opposite. It is not a film about the decline of an objective occurrence, but about the way in which that occurrence is symbolically perceived. The fascination for rustic hideousness in Landscapes seems to be part of a social imagination triggered by Russias socioeconomic development since the mid 1990s. Historically, the image of menacing peasants appears when social order changes, when the poor from the hinterlands mingle with the lives of wealthy urbanites. - Moritz Pfeifer, Menacing Peasants, East European Film Bulletin, April 27, 2012, https://eefb.org/archive/april-2012/goeast-2012/loznitsa-2-peasant-documentaries/
Sergey Loznitsa was born September 5th, 1964 in the city of Baranovitchi, in Belarus. At that time Belarus was part of the Soviet Union. Later Sergeys family moved to Kiev, Ukraine, where Sergey finished high school.
In 1981 Sergey applied and was admitted to Kiev Polytechnic Institute, with the major in applied mathematic and control systems. In 1987 he graduated with a degree in engineering and mathematics.
From 1987 through 1991 Sergey was employed as a scientist at the Institute of Cybernetics. He was involved in the development of expert systems, artificial intelligence, and decision-making processes. In addition to his main job, Sergey worked as a translator from Japanese. During that time Sergey developed a strong interest in cinematography, and in 1991 he applied to Russian State Institute of Cinematography, in Moscow. After passing a very vigorous selection process, Sergey was admitted to the Institute. He studied in the studio of Nana Dzhordzhadze. In 1997 Sergey graduated with honors with the major in movie production and direction.
From 2000 he produces works in the Studio of Documentary Films in St.Petersburg.
In 2000 he was awarded Nipkov program grant in Berlin. In 2001 Sergey immigrated with his family to Germany.
Sergey Loznitsa has directed 18 internationally acclaimed documentary films. His two feature films, Schastye moe (2010) and V tumane (2012) had their world premieres at the Festival de Cannes, where V tumane received the FIPRESCI prize. Loznitsas feature-length documentary film Maidan, dedicated to the Ukrainian Revolution, premiered in 2014 at the Festival de Cannes. His feature-length documentary film Sobytie that revisits the dramatic moments of August 1991 in the USSR, a failed coup détat attempt (known as Putsch) premiered at la Biennale di Venezia in 2015.
This program is supported by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles; and Bloomberg Philanthropies. We also depend on our members, ticket buyers, and individual donors.
Los Angeles Filmforum is the citys longest-running organization dedicated to weekly screenings of experimental film, documentaries, video art, and experimental animation. 2017 is our 42nd year.
Coming soon to Los Angeles Filmforum:
Feb 12 Short films by Sergei Loznitsa
Feb 18 Films by Roger Beebe, Tony Gault, and Elizabeth Henry, filmmakers in person
Feb 19 The annual Festival of (In)appropriation
Feb 25 Sergei Loznitsa in person Blockade
Feb 27 Sergei Loznitsa in person at UCLA Austerlitz
Feb 28 Sergei Loznitsa in person at Cal Arts Maidan
Mar 1 Sergei Loznitsa in person at Cinefamily The Event
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Spielberg Theater at the Egyptian (View)
6712 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
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