A documentary, in which one sees “24 frames of lies” per second.

The Trial is an absorbing and wonderfully complex film in its own right – albeit one that warns of the consequences of total authority, now, then and in the future. 


Moscow, USSR. 1930. The Pillar Hall of the State House of the Unions. A group of top rank economists and engineers is put on trial accused of plotting a coup d'etat against the Soviet government. It's alleged that they made a secret pact with the French Prime Minister, Raymond Poincare, and with other Western political leaders, aiming to destroy the Soviet power, restore capitalism and break up the USSR. All charges are fabricated and the accused are forced to confess to the crimes they never committed. The court, presided by Andrey Vyshinsky, who later became known as the diabolical prosecutor, key-figure in Stalinist show trials and the advocate of mass repressions, delivers death verdicts.  

Unique archive footage reconstructs one of the first show trials, masterminded by Stalin, which unfolds as a theatrical performance with actors - prosecutors, witnesses, defendants, judges - lying to themselves, to the audience and to the world. The drama is real, but the story is fake. The film gives an unprecedented insight into the origins of a deadly regime, which made the slogan "Lie is Truth" its everyday reality. 

I decided to make the film in such a way, as to give the spectators a chance to spend 2 hours in the USSR in 1930: to see and to experience the moment, when the machine of state terror, created by Stalin, was launched into action. This film is at once completely authentic and truthful – from the point of view of the material and the documentary method of shooting, and completely fake – as all the participants of the trial are telling lies, and they are all fully aware of that.

Sergei Loznitsa



Directed by: Sergei Loznitsa
Editor: Sergei Loznitsa, Danielius Kokanauskis
Producers: Sergei Loznitsa, Maria Choustova

127 minutes