DOK Leipzig/ 5/ Loznitsa Award for “The Event”

From a reporter’s point of view this could have been put on the site last night but I wanted to watch the winning film of the Stiftung Friedliche Revolution Prize today and so I did and it was a good decision to give Sergei Loznitsa (photo) one more award to the many he has already. He is a master of creative treatment of archive material, his masterpiece in that genre is still “Blockade” about the siege of Leningrad, and this one, that goes back to the same city – that I visited a month ago, now called St. Petersburg – has the same approach, letting the archive “speak for itself”. And yet Loznitsa has chosen the material, put it together, selected the sound, to be brief, he has directed the film material being intelligent enough not to seduce us to simple solutions and thus conclusions. Those of us who are old enough and interested in recent world history remember the coup d´état in Moscow in August 1990 and we have again and again seen the images of the “junta” at their press conference, the shaking hands of one of them and of course Yeltsin making his victorious climb of a military tank to make a speech about – well about the fall of USSR. But Loznitsa is not in Moscow in his film, he is in Leningrad and gives me

exceptional material from what happened in the streets and the squares, that I love so much today, where people gathered to try to understand what is going on. +  he gives me the legendary mayor Sobchak and his impressive speeches, “the sea of faces” listening to him, the USSR flag being substituted by the Russian, the slogans used like “fascism will not prevail”, bring the “coup gang to justice” and the name of Yeltsin shouted again and again. Fascinating. One objection, however, I have to come up with – Loznitsa, you over-use the fact that the television plays “Swan Lake” while history is made. And of course you watch that film from a 2015 perspective of what Russia is today. That is in YOUR head, Loznitsa does not give any easy journalistic solutions.

And here comes the edited version of the DOK Leipzig press release: Yesterday, on Thursday the 29th of October, the documentary film about the coup in Russia in August 1991 entitled “The Event” (‘Sobytie’) was awarded the Leipziger Ring. This film prize from Stiftung Friedliche Revolution (Peaceful Revolution Foundation), endowed with 5,000 euros was given to Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa in Leipzig’s St. Nicholas Church. In his 74-minute film he employs archive footage to describe the end of an epoch. The Leipziger Ring is the first award given within the framework of the DOK Leipzig Festival 2015.

The foundation awards its prize to acknowledge an artistic documentary film that either portrays civic involvement on behalf of democracy and human rights in an exemplary manner, or has arisen due to great personal commitment and courage on the part of the director against obstacles and restrictions dealing with freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

The jury substantiated its selection for the honour as follows: “Sergei Loznitsa’s film distinguishes itself through a coherent, clearly defined dramatic composition. All of the creative devices employed are utilised deliberately and consistently. Particular emphasis is to be given to the respectful way in which the documentary material is dealt with. The filmmaker places his faith in the power of the material itself and does not manipulate it.”

All right, you can discuss whether he manipulates or just lives up to being a – pretty skilled – film director.

The prize-winner received the Leipziger Ring statuette in addition to the prize money. It recalls the large-scale demonstrations in the fall of 1989 on Leipzig’s Altstadtring, the ring thoroughfare encircling the old town, as well as the burning candles the demonstrators held in their hands as a symbol of their non-violent stance. Nine films were nominated for the prize.

Final comment: This award and the way it is being celebrated is full of the seriousness and dignity that is DOK Leipzig.

Share your love
Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

Articles: 3862