Hot Docs review: Victory Day

Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa observes the people converging on the Soviet War Memorial in Berlin on May 9

VICTORY DAY (Sergei Loznitsa, Germany). 94 minutes. Rating: NN

Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa set up shop at the Soviet War Memorial in Berlin’s Treptower Park to capture the festivities on Victory Day, a holiday in former Soviet states on May 9 that marks the Red Army’s defeat of the Nazis in World War II.

Unlike Remembrance Day in Canada, their vibe is more celebratory than solemn and the diaspora descending on Berlin transform the park into a street festival.

The director films an officer reciting the names of the war dead, but Loznitsa is more interested in singers, conspiratorial agitators and other energetic figures in the crowd. His focus on everyday people versus the military pomp that would be on display in Moscow feels political, and segments are preceded by images of the war scenes on the memorial.

But Victory Day is observational to a fault its distance from the action makes it difficult to connect meaningfully to those at the memorial. It’s an outsider experience and perhaps that’s the point. But watching the doc feels like drifting aimlessly through a party where you don’t know anyone and then leaving without talking to anyone.

Apr 27, 2:45 pm, TIFF 3 Apr 28, 3:15 pm, Scotiabank 7 May 5, 8:15 pm, Scotiabank 3

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