// Presented as part of June's Best Undistributed Series //
Exclusive Essay: Austerlitz: Selfies in the Concentration Camp
Spotlight on Austerlitz
Austerlitz / Sergei Loznitsa / Germany, 2016 / Venice, IDFA Amsterdam, Cartagena, Traverse City, Tromsø... / 94'
Sachsenhausen, 2016. Tourists filter off buses, walk through the parking lot and between the gates of a former Nazi death camp. They observe what remains of the architecture. They pose for photographs— some smiling, some somber. They take selfies. In crisp black and white, the camera observes the behavior of a few among thousands of tourists who visit sites increasingly relinquished to the annals of history.
A bold, inquisitive but at times darkly humorous film, Austerlitz holds a mirror between the past and the present, memory and forgetting. Prolific Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa's eighth documentary premiered at Venice, Cartagena and Traverse City Film Festival, where it won Best Avant-Garde Film. Nominated for Indiewire Critics' Poll for Best Undistributed Film; it won 8th place.
"The present-day worth of preserved Holocaust death camps is tacitly addressed in Sergei Loznitsa's brilliant observational doc... [an] ingeniously simple, mesmerizing documentary— a vital entry in the growing chapter of cinema evaluating the Holocaust's present-day legacy. A stark stunner destined more for festival travel and non-theatrical exhibition than regular distribution, Austerlitz should nonetheless provoke its select audience into extensive philosophical argument"
- Guy Lodge, Venice Review, Variety