Entrevue avec Sergei Loznitsa – Maïdan

Sergei Loznitsa revient sur son plus récent documentaire, Maïdan, pour lequel il a filmé pendant trois mois les manifestations qui ont secoué Kiev.


The film covers a periods of a few months. How much time did you actually spend shooting and how was the shoot organised?

I arrived in Kiev on December 14th 2013. I could not come earlier, as I had a deadline to finish a short documentary for the omnibus about Sarajevo. I came with my camera and I filmed almost non-stop for the whole time that I was there – about 10 days. I started looking for a cameraman, who could continue my work, as I had to go back to Europe at the end of December, and it was difficult to predict at that point how long it would take for the regime to fall. However, it was obvious to me from the very beginning that this was not just a temporary outburst of popular unrest, which would quiet down with little result. I realized that the regime of Yanukovich was doomed and it was only a matter of time…

I was fortunate to meet a very talented young cameraman Sergei Stetsenko, who continued to film in Maidan during January and February. I was following the events on the internet, and I was in touch with Sergei on a daily basis, and he was sending me new material once every 2 or 3 days. I started editing the film in the end of January, and I was building the film almost in real time, as the events were unfolding.

The (almost) exclusive use of still shots differentiates your film from all the other recent films made about public revolts. Why did you make that decision?

When I arrived in Maidan, the first thing I needed to establish is who would be the main hero of my film. I realised that I was not going to follow singular characters or groups of characters. I was interested in the masses, in the whole scale of the event. The people of Ukraine are the main protagonist of the film. When I chose my protagonist – crowds, large groups of people – I then chose the position of the camera and the style of shooting.
I wanted to immerse the spectator into the atmosphere of the place, to let the spectator experience Maidan. This is why it was important to have long static takes. Also, with long takes like that nobody can accuse you of manipulation, of editing and distorting events.

As a follow-up to the previous question, what were the main reasons behind the decision to put the camera at certain places?

I begin by showing the Maidan Square from different angles, a kind of introduction to the space. And then – after the introduction is over – I begin to develop the narrative, with every scene contributing to the development of the story. I made a decision to keep my distance throughout the film. I did not want to be too close, or to show violence at a close-up.

Did your own political stance change during the shooting/editing of the film?

Not at all. I understood almost as soon as I arrived in Maidan that Yanukovich and his gang were doomed, and it was just a matter of time for Maidan protests to gain strength. I saw the Ukrainian nation awakening, and I am very proud that I had a chance to experience this awakening. To my great surprise, I discovered that the people of Kiev, my hometown, where I lived for 27 years, were capable of such solidarity and camaraderie. I think the real revelation was the fact that the civil society in Ukraine is so strong and is capable of such an incredible effort in order to gain freedom.

How would you describe the importance of those events now?

I believe that the events in Maidan were crucial not only for Ukraine, but also for the entire Europe. Three revolutions took place in Maidan at once: anti-corruption revolution, anti-Soviet revolution and anti-colonial revolution. One must not forget that even though Ukraine had been officially independent for the past 25 years, it is only now – after Maidan – the country is making an attempt to break free from the « big Russian brother » and to take responsibility for its own destiny and future. Maidan was the first step on the road to freedom and democracy in Ukraine.

Séances :

Vendredi 14 novembre, 17h30 – Cinéma du Parc 2

Dimanche 18 novembre, 15h30 – Cinéma Excentris Cassavetes