Accreditation
 
Anja Salomonowitz
Thursday 13.04.2017

Anja Salomonowitz

Peter Strickland
Wednesday 12.04.2017

Peter Strickland

Pavla Janoušková Kubečková, Tomáš Hrubý and Štěpán Hulík
Sunday 26.03.2017

Pavla Janoušková Kubečková, Tomáš Hrubý and Štěpán Hulík

Ludovica Ferrario
Friday 10.03.2017

Ludovica Ferrario

Steve Matthews
Sunday 26.02.2017

Steve Matthews

 

Austerlitz

How can we accept the history?

This carefully composed monochrome film without voiceover shows scenes of modern-day tourists at Holocaust sites in German and asks troubling questions about man’s ability to consume and yet, at the same time, forget the past. Loznitsa describes Austerlitz as an effort to reckon with an existential crisis he felt on his first visit to Buchenwald. He was there doing side research for a project called “Babi Year” about mass murders in World War II Ukraine. "I realized, in front of the crematorium, that I was myself like a tourist,” he said. “And at the same time, I thought, ‘How can I be? How can I stay there?"

There are places in Europe that have remained as painful memories of the past - factories where humans were turned into ash. These places are now memorial sites that are open to the public and receive thousands of tourists every year. The film's title refers to the eponymous novel written by W.G. Sebald, dedicated to the memory of Holocaust. This film is an observation of the visitors to a memorial site that has been founded on the territory of a former concentration camp. Why do they go there? What are they looking for?

Loznitsa sets up fixed camera positions at the Dachau and Sachsenhausen camps, which have huge visitor numbers due to being close to big cities (Munich and Berlin respectively) and simply records the ebb and flow of thousands of tourists as they look around, chat, yawn, listen to the audio guides and take selfies. 

One group actually does this next to the sign saying “Arbeit Macht Frei”. Of course they are dressed casually, and evidently no restrictions are put on their clothing as might be the case in a church or mosque, and yet their behaviour is not overtly disrespectful or disorderly. It is just normal. It is as if they are seeing the Eiffel Tower. “‘Ah, interesting.’ Like consumers. It’s selling horror in small pieces. It looks like that, when you stay outside and just observe people.” said Loznitsa.

"Above all, Loznitsa shows you the central activity: looking. Everyone is looking, looking, looking. Looking at what? Buildings, walls, yards, enclosures. The victims are not there. The war criminals are not there. The past is not there. Perhaps each new tourist erodes the site further until all that is left is dust. But visiting these sites is not meaningless and not wrong. It is part of human curiosity, which is better than indifference or forgetting."
Guardian

 

 

 

Directed by: Sergei Loznitsa

Cinematography:  Sergei Loznitsa, Jesse Mazuch

Country: Germany

2016 94 minutes