by SERGEY LOZNITSA

Blockade (2005)

Synopsis

This film is about life during the siege of Leningrad that was conceding the space for death. The editing of the chronicle reconstructs the topology of the city and the plot of the war. This is black smoke, the walls of the city turn into ruins; the city sees through the veil and finds out that the war begins as a deformation of space. This is white smoke, the camera gets used to the dust and sees the corpses; these are human ruins destined to grow together with space, to become blocks of new walls. Hungry puffs of steam rise in the cold air when winter comes; protruding bones, angular unnatural postures – these are deformations of human bodies in a ghost town. When the siege ends, there will be a lot of pyrotechnics. But if sheaves of sparks are the next step of work with smokes and hazes, can the fireworks celebrate anything without leading to the next deformation?

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Sergey Loznitsa

Sergey Loznitsa was born on the 5th of September, 1964 in the city of Baranovitchi, in Belarus. At that time Belarus was part of the Soviet Union. Later Sergey’s 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 wife and two daughters to Germany. Sergey Loznitsa made three full size documentaries and six short stories. Presently Sergey is directing several documentaries and working on new scripts.

Awards:

Jury Award International Film Festival “Stalker” in Moscow, 2005

Critics Prix International Film Festival “Stalker” in Moscow, 2005

“White Elephant” National film critics prix for best documentary film, Russia, 2005

Best Documentary National academy prix “NIKA” for best documentary film, Russia, 2005

Grand Prix International Film Festival “Kontakt” in Kiev, 2005

Second Prix International Film Festival Madrid, 2006

St. Petersburg’s Government prix for 2005

Grand Prix “Gold Dragon” International Krakow Short Film Festival, 2006

Best Documentary Film from archive Jerusalem International Film Festival, 2006

Jury Award International Film Festival “Message to man” St.Petersburg, 2006

Grand Prix for Best Documentary Film IFF “Okno v Evropu”, Vyborg, Russia, 2006

Best Documentary Film Open Documentary Film Festival “Russia”, Ekaterinburg, 2006

Best Documentary “Golden laurel” National documentary film prix, Russia, 2006

Arie&Bozena Zweig Innovation Award

Chicago International Documentary Festival, 2007

“Told without voiceover, explanatory subtitles or any other contextualizing material, Russian docu “Blockade” looks unlikely to show up on the History Channel as it stands now. Nevertheless, this absorbing account of the 900-day siege of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) during WWII, told entirely through re-edited archive footage with freshly made sound, reps poignant viewing as it focuses on the daily lives of the city’s inhabitants. Pic by experienced helmer Sergei Loznitsa (“Landscape”) should soon besiege fests and upmarket cablers. Culled from newsreel material, pic’s visuals are grouped thematically to show different aspects of the Leningrad Blockade. Shots of burning and later devastated buildings are backed by a soundtrack of sirens and raging flames. Sounds of soft weeping are matched to imagery of mass graves, which still have power to shock. Later on, dead, shrouded bodies are seen littering the streets, but most of the pedestrians, by this point so inured to the sight, simply walk past. Match between sound and image is concise but not too literal, and editing builds the pace well toward its climax, when the city is finally liberated and the war ends.”

Leslie Felperin

Variety

 

“The images of starvation and death in “Blockade,” Sergei Loznitsa’s compilation of archival news clips recording the siege of Leningrad during World War II, are so stark that a conventional soundtrack could only distract you from the harsh pictures of this city, Russia’s second-largest, in the throes of catastrophe.

The most harrowing sequences show stone-faced pedestrians huddling in their overcoats as they step over frozen corpses littering the sidewalks. Desperate residents slip and slide over enormous snowdrifts to grab from the charred skeletons of bombed-out buildings whatever they can scavenge to use as fuel. On streets where all public transportation has halted, women fill pails with melted ice extracted from a hole in the snow. …”

Stephen Holden

The New York Times

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