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- 2.2.2015 15:46 -

Learn to Look. Prague Master Class with Victor Kossakovsky


The film event of the beginning of the year, the first world online retrospective of Victor Kossakovsky, has brought one more unique experience. All Prague fans of the legend of contemporary documentary were able to meet the director personally during his master class! What did they learn?

We usually make New Year’s resolutions with the arrival of the new year. After the master class of Victor Kossakovsky, held on Friday, January 23 in Prague on the occasion of his first world online retrospective and the Czech distribution premiere of the director’s latest film Long Live the Antipodes!, the resolution for 2015 became very clear to the crowded cinema hall: To learn to look. Why?

As proved by Victor Kossakovsky’s films, which have been an integral part of modern documentary history since the 1990s, a documentarist is a person who sees the world around him better than other people do. His eyes seem to function in a microscopic regime, revealing a specific choreography of people, their relationships and the world around them even behind seemingly unintentional moves. At the same time, his look has a special power, not unlike that of caped comics heroes, revealing a unique personality, special ability or quality even in the most ordinary person, making it a focus of the viewers’ attention for two hours by means of film. Ordinariness becoming a dramatic motif by means of the camera; Kossakovsky has found it, however, will we be able to do so, too?

The director’s Prague master class has proved that the documentary eye can be trained anytime and anywhere. A tried and tested tip Victor Kossakovsky gave the audience of over 70 people, silently lapping up his every word, was the method of a story as a ticket. Invite your friends and instead of getting clinking and sweet-smelling gifts, ask them to tell you the most interesting things they have seen that day. However, if you think that the work of the documentarist only consists in a silent observation of overlooked details, do not be mistaken. The work behind the camera does not end with the choice of the theme and the protagonists. “If you want to get something from people, you must give them something yourselves,” Victor Kossakovsky claims uncompromisingly, admitting that he has learned something new with each film. Although he does not try to make a global revolution with his films, it is the very films that have made a personal revolution in the director’s life. After the debate following the premiere of his film, the director was not afraid to admit that his latest film Long Live the Antipodes! has changed his view of the human society. “I have realized that people are not that important. What am I compared to a stone that has been lying on the earth’s surface for thousands of years?”

Who am I compared to the legend of contemporary documentary? This must have been the thought of many of the viewers attending the master class and the premiere, watching the director’s relentless energy and the spark in his eyes, which would light up every time he would comment on the scenes shot from the window of his Saint Petersburg apartment, which formed his cult documentary humoresque “Tishe!”, with enthusiasm and amazement. The technical perfection and continuous innovation of the visual language, thanks to which Victor Kossakovsky always accomplishes his goal of making a film that nobody has done before, made the viewers sink deeper in their red covered seats, while the minute details and portraits brought the unique force of the filmmaker’s observational skills to the foreground.

However, those who would leave Victor Kossakovsky’s film lesson with a sense of worthlessness, inadequacy or imperfection of their own work would be wrong in their judgement. All it takes is to put on the observant glasses of a documentarist! They will help you see that your work as well as your ordinariness is but an imaginary veil of a profound and original story which is waiting to be discovered. If it is not to be discovered by the documentary camera, we should definitely try to become documentarists in our daily lives ourselves. Perhaps we will be surprised by our close ones, astonished by the distant ones and we will see ourselves in the mirror with the same passion and interest as Victor Kossakovsky’s little son did in Svyato.

Andrea of the DAFilms team

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