Den’ Pobedy

Victory Day
Sergei Loznitsa
2018

19.02. 19:00 Eng. subtitles Delphi Filmpalast
21.02. 13:45 Eng. subtitles CineStar 8
23.02. 15:30 Eng. subtitles Akademie der Künste
25.02. 20:00 Eng. subtitles Colosseum 1

94 min. Russian, German, English.

The Soviet Memorial in Treptower Park is among the most impressive of the monuments commemorating the Second World War in Berlin. Each year on May 9th, the day of the Red Army’s victory over the Nazis, the memorial becomes the setting for a vast gathering.
This film documents the proceedings from early morning, when a small group of visitors enter with their dogs, pulling a little wagon carrying a portrait of Stalin, to the evening, after the last patriotic songs have been sung, the selfies with flags sent, the vodka drunk and the speeches have faded away. The camera is always in the thick of the action, both inspired and propelled by an atmosphere that is a mixture of pride and reflection, patriotism and a desire for recognition, shame and typical Berlin curiosity. The spectator becomes aware of just how choreographed each of the actions here are, whether performed by young or old, women in traditional costumes or men in uniform: on this date the memorial reveals its power as a cinematographic magnet, revealing how, even 72 years after the end of the war, an infinite number of lifelines intersect and are defined from exactly this spot, stretching out over Berlin and far beyond. (Dorothee Wenner)

Sergei Loznitsa was born in 1964 in what was then the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, now the Republic of Belarus. He grew up in Kiev, and graduated from the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute in 1987 with a degree in Applied Mathematics. From 1987 to 1991 he worked both as a scientist at the Kiev Glushkov Institute of Cybernetics, specializing in artificial intelligence research, and as a translator from Japanese. In 1997 Loznitsa graduated from the Russian State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in Moscow. He has directed eighteen documentary films since 1996. His feature debut, My Joy, was made in 2010.

Monuments to ambiguity

Every year, on 9 May, people gather in Treptower Park in Berlin. Ceremonies are held in the morning, and flowers are laid at the Soviet War Memorial, followed by festivities attended mostly by the Russian-speaking population of Berlin. Since 1965, the 9th of May has been a public holiday in the Soviet Union – Victory Day.
DEN’ POBEDY is my second film dedicated to the memory of tragic events in recent European history. The first film, AUSTERLITZ, was shot at memorial sites at former concentration camps, places of suffering and death. The second film, DEN’ POBEDY, continues the examination of the memorialising of traumatic experiences. It takes place at a memorial site that was built in remembrance of an historical event. According to Soviet mythology, it is the day of the USSR’s victory over the Third Reich. This is how this historical event has been defined in the Soviet historiography. This is how a visitor would perceive it when visiting this place.
The Nuremberg Trials, held between 20 November 1945 and 1 October 1946, did not examine the role of the Soviet Union in the start of the Second World War. Neither the crimes committed by the leadership of the USSR, nor the totalitarian system established under Joseph Stalin, which was just as bloody and inhumane as the Third Reich, were ever subjected to trial. Such was the arrangement agreed upon by the Allied leaders.
Thus, some of the crucial problems and issues were left unresolved – for example, the question of whether the actions of the Soviet state during the period between August 1939 and June 1941 were lawful. The secret Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact [also known as the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact or the Hitler-Stalin Pact –Ed.], the division of Poland, the destruction of the Polish army and the Polish military elite, the war against Finland, the occupation of the Baltic states and Bessarabia, etc., etc. In view of all that, what is one to make of the Soviet symbols, Soviet monuments and Soviet festive ceremonies dedicated to the memory of the Second World War?
It is for this very reason – since the ambiguity remains, since the crimes of the Soviet authorities were never condemned, since the Soviet regime was never brought to an international trial, all the monuments, erected during the Soviet era and rooted in Soviet ideology and mythology, remain for us monuments to ambiguity. It is very difficult to define our attitude towards them.
DEN’ POBEDY is a reportage depicting the festivities on 9 May 2017 in Treptower Park in Berlin. (Sergei Loznitsa)

Production Sergei Loznitsa, Andrey Mikhailov. Production companies Imperativ Film (Berlin, Germany), Taura Ltd. (Vilnius, Lithuania). Written and directed by Sergei Loznitsa. Director of photography Sergei Loznitsa, Diego Garcia, Jesse Mazuch. Editing Danielius Kokanauskis. Sound design Vladimir Golovnitski. Sound Vladimir Golovnitski.

World sales Imperativ Film

Films

1996: Segodnya mi postroim dom / Today We Are Going To Build A House (28 min.). 1998: Zhizn, osen / Life, Autumn (34 min.). 2000: Polustanok / The Train Stop (25 min.). 2001: Poselenie / Settlement (80 min.), Portret / Portrait (28 min.). 2003: Landschaft / Landscape (60 min.). 2004: Fabrika / Factory (30 min.). 2005: Blokada / Blockade (52 min.). 2006: Artel (30 min.), 
Predstavlenie / Revue (83 min.). 2008: Severniy svet / Northern Light (52 min.). 2010: Schastye moe / My Joy (127 min.). 2012: V tumane / In the Fog (128 min.), Tchudo sviatogo Antonia / O Milagre de Santo António (40 min.). 2013: Pismo / Letter (20 min.), Reflections, Bridges of Sarajevo (17 min.). 2014: Maidan (133 min.), Staroe evreiskoe kladbische / The Old Jewish Cemetery (20 min.). 2015: Sobytie / The Event (74 min.). 2016: Austerlitz (94 min.). 2017: Krotkaya / A Gentle Creature (143 min.). 2018: Den’ Pobedy.

Photo: © Imperativ Film