We are pleased to host the UK premier of Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa’s most recent documentary Austerlitz, a timely window onto tourism, memorialisation and museological mediation in contemporary society. Shot on the sites of several Nazi concentration camps including Dachau and Sachsenhausen, Loznitsa’s camera follows tourists as they move around the camps, take photographs and selfies and listen to audio guides. Shot in long takes on mostly hidden cameras, the film refrains from narration and titling except to translate the didactic information offered on group tours in several languages – the discrepancy between these framings often baffling. A quiet yet altogether disquieting mirror of our engagements with historically loaded objects and sites, the power of Austerlitz’s austere framing in many ways epitomises the approach Loznitsa has cultivated in his documentary oeuvre over the past twenty years.
I stand here and look at the machinery for the extermination of the human body. Traces of life, sometime ago, long ago, here and now. What am I doing here? What are all these people doing here, moving in groups from one object to another? The reason that induces thousands of people to spend their summer weekends in the former concentration camp is one of the mysteries of these memorial sites … To try to come to grips with this, I made this film.
Sergei Loznitsa Austerlitz, Germany 2016, DCP, black-and-white, sound, 94 min, English, German and Spanish with English subtitles
The screening is followed by a Q&A with the artist via Skype.
About Sergei Loznitsa
Sergei Loznitsa (b.1964, Belarus) studied applied mathematics at the Kiev Polytechnic Institute before turning to filmmaking in the mid-1990s. In 1997 Loznitsa graduated from the Russian State Institute of Cinematography in Moscow and has directed twenty internationally-acclaimed films since this time. Though known primarily for his work in documentary, Loznitsa’s two feature films Schastye moe (2010) and V tumane (2012) premiered at Cannes, where the latter received the FIPRESCI prize. His feature-length documentary film Sobytie premiered at the 2015 Venice Biennale, and in 2017 his documentary works were the subject of a MUBI retrospective entitled Film is a Theorem: The Documentaries of Sergei Loznitsa.