Docpoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival

Programme (2020)

State Funeral (2020)

Sixty-six years after the death of Joseph Stalin, one of the bloodiest dictators in modern history, filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa re-creates the mass delusion of citizens across the Soviet Union who reacted to the news of his demise as though they had lost their ideal father. The title State Funeral sounds like an understatement amid the grandiose pomp and ceremony of nationwide mourning fit for an ancient emperor. This cannily edited selection of rare archive footage reveals the peak of the people’s mind-born terror, and it is the beginning of the end.

But what is the meaning of the gigantic funeral ceremony that engulfs the entire country, bringing it to a standstill for four days of mourning while the propaganda machine works overtime pumping its crocodile tears? As the end credits remind us, under Stalin’s almighty hand, 27 million were murdered and 15 million starved to death. How, then, to interpret this sea of stunned, grief-stricken faces and weeping women?

Loznitsa has said that he sees the film as “a visual study of the nature of Stalin’s personality cult,” which it certainly is. In his attempt to make the audience a “participant and witness” at the mega-funeral, he eliminates captions and explanations as superfluous to over two hours of superbly edited archive footage, most of it in black and white but some in glorious color.

Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter

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Film Title : State Funeral
Language : venäjä
Director : Sergei Loznitsa
Year : 2019
Length : 135
Age limit : S
Format : DCP
Editing : Danielius Kokanauskis
Producer : Sergei Loznitsa, Maria Choustova
Production Company : Atoms & Void

Screenings :
Mon 27.1. at 17.00, Kinopalatsi 8
Thu 30.1. at 19.15, Kinopalatsi 8
Sun 2.2. at 16.45, Kinopalatsi 8