State Funeral

dir. Sergei Loznitsa / 2019 / Netherlands, Lithuania / 135min.
The power and absurdity of the USSR in previously unshown photographs

From the broadcasters, newspapers and posters announcing the news of Stalin’s death in bombastic tones, to the endless procession of mourners sobbing as they pay their last respects to their “red tszar,” to the ceremonial burial in the mausoleum, this film observes each phase of the solemn rites surrounding the funeral of Joseph Stalin in March 1953. In the tradition of his earlier films on the legacy of the Soviet Union, Sergei Loznitsa draws on existing material. Much of this never-before-seen footage is in color; the “Kremlin Red” flowers, streamers and flags contrast intensely with the backdrop of snow-covered streets, gray-clad citizens and drab factories.

Even far away from Moscow, workers lay down their work to commemorate their Party leader. This utterly grotesque event — to which the director does further justice with the factual historical information at the end — reveals the pain and absurdity of life and death under a tyrannical regime based on a personality cult.

135 min
country / year of production:
Netherlands, Lithuania / 2019
Sergei Loznitsa
Archive Footage
Maria Choustova, Sergei Loznitsa, Uljana Kim / Atoms & Void, Studio Uljana Kim
selected festivals and awards:
2019 – IFF Venice, 2019 – IFF Stockholm, 2019 – FF New York
Siergei Loznitza Retrospective
history Russia

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