1984 Today!
1984 Today!
Episode 107: Sergei Loznitsa on Totalitarianism and Truth

Episode 107: Sergei Loznitsa on Totalitarianism and Truth

The award-winning director of Donbass and State Funeral discusses his work, the abuse of language in a time of war, the nature of totalitarianism, and the possibility of objective truth.

Sergei Loznitsa is an award-winning director of feature films and documentaries, a Ukrainian born in the Soviet Union, and a compassionate interrogator of the human condition.

His 2018 film Donbass, “a darkly satirical omnibus of scathing vignettes”1 about life in Eastern Ukraine, won him Best Director in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival.

His description of the film connects it with Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four:

In the Donbass, war is called peace, propaganda is uttered as truth and hatred is declared to be love…It is about a world, lost in post-truth and fake identities.

His documentary work, often composed entirely of archive material without voiceover or other commentary, includes The Natural History of Destruction, The Trial, and State Funeral.


On MUBI’s website, where several of his films are available to watch, he makes the following statement:

I want my films to urge the viewers to move towards self-knowledge, self-awareness, and awareness of certain important things that they never considered before. This is of the greatest importance to me.

I met with Sergei to discuss his films, his run-ins with the European and Ukrainian Film Academies, the possibility of truth in cinema, the way language is degraded in wartime, the imprisonment of Vladimir Kara-Murza, and more.

We sat knee to knee in a small studio. It was an intimate setting for what turned out to be a wide-ranging, touching, and resonant discussion. In the recording of our conversation, you can sometimes hear Sergei’s suit jacket rustling when he gestures to make a point or emphasise a statement.

His refusal to fall back on easy answers, and his determination to see the real human questions undergirding political issues, made it an honour and a pleasure to speak with him.

I hope you enjoy the episode.

Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

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NB: I owe thanks to

for bringing Sergei’s work to my attention. Thank you, gentlemen.

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1984 Today!
1984 Today!
An exploration of dystopian trends in society, featuring a range of guests, hosted by Mike Freedman.