Dmitry Bogolubov: The Wall

Skrevet den 30-10-2017 12:05:53 af Tue Steen Müller

Dmitry Bogolubov: The Wall

At the Jihlava Intl. FF they have a fine tradition that has been picked up by other festivals: to have a one man/woman jury for one of the competitive sections, the Opus Bonum.

Legendary filmmaker from Latvia Laila Pakalnina was the one to choose this year according to this rule (quote from the festival site): … an outstanding documentary film of the year from a diverse collection representing tendencies in world documentary; since all of the films are significant, the festival suggest the following game; a single juror picks a single film, a “brilliant” work…

The Best World Documentary Film 2017 was – according to Pakalnina: ”The Wall” by Dmitry Bogolubov. Motivation: ”For using the film language to express the inexpressible. For Film”.

The synopsis goes like this: ”The Stalin Cult is once again gaining

in strength in Russia. Every December 21st, the former Communist leader’s admirers gather to honor him on Red Square, at the site of his grave in the Kremlin Wall. In this observational documentary, the Russian director introduces the principle of “walking heads” – the majority of the footage consists of long takes showing the faces of the people waiting in line to place flowers and pay homage in front of a bust of Stalin. Accompanied by the sound of shuffling feet, a representative sample of various human types parades in front of our eyes, their faces reflecting almost a sacred reverence for a man who was responsible for the murder of several millions of their fellow citizens.”

And the director’s note to his film: "Imagine thousands of Jews praying to Hitler’s grave. Impossible? How people can worship the one who annihilated them? In modern Russia we can witness a similar paradox."

Does it work this observation of people, who come with flowers to the mass murderer? In 43 minutes, no commentary, pure observation of faces, old people mostly, close-ups, only once a young man addresses one single person, who protests against the hommage: ”… those who do not respect Stalin, should die…”

I felt a bit like when I watched ”Austerlitz” by Loznitsa ( It is challenging aesthetic approach, you have to ”get into it” before it works for you, these ”walking heads”. And you think why and who are they, what are their stories, why are so much linked to the past, what does that say about the present Russian society, now this year, 100 years after the revolution? And I think about what I read in Svetlana Alexievich’s documentary books ( about ”Homo Sovjeticus”.

I could identify one person in the crowd, Gennady Zuganov, who has been the general secretary of the Communist Party since 1993.

The British journalist Nick Holdsworth has written a fine review of the film, link below, on DOK Revue, one af many fine initiatives of the Czech festival. He praises the camera work of Vladimir Kuleshov, I agree totally.

Russia, 2017, 43 mins.

Tilføjet i kategorierne: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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