Vivan las Antipodas! by Victor Kossakovsky is the second film on Opening Night (Out of Competition)

Vivan Las Antipodas!

The new film by the great Russian documentary filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky, Vivan las Antipodas! will be the second film on Opening Night (Out of Competition) at the 68th Venice International Film Festival (31 August – 10 September 2011), directed by Marco Mueller and organized by la Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta.

Viva las Antipodas! will have its world premiere screening in the Sala Grande (Palazzo del Cinema) on Wednesday August 31st at 10:00 PM for the public and accredited visitors of the Venice International Film Festival. The film is written and directed by Victor Kossakovsky, produced by Heino Deckert, and co-produced by Leontine Petit, Joost de Vries, Marleen Slot, Gema Juarez Allen, Juan Manuel Egaña. The assistants to the director are Saskia Heyden and Derek Howard. The film score is by Alexander Popov, and the sound by Michel Schöpping.

For his new documentary, Victor Kossakovsky leads us through a singular voyage around the globe: into the few places of the world located precisely one opposite the other. With particularly effective editing, Kossakovsky addresses the unusual theme of antipodes, creating “a poem about a multipolar world”. The story is set in four pairs of places opposite each other on the globe: Argentina-China, Chile-Russia, Hawaii-Botswana, New Zealand-Spain. It concerns a solitary fisherman in a village in Argentina and a woman who sells fish in a noisy street in Shanghai, about the guardian in a Chilean lighthouse in Cape Horn and a ship’s officer on Lake Baikal; and so on. Their stories are both antithetical and similar at the same time.

Vivan las Antipodas! also marks an intelligent return to the ‘planetary’ cinema of Godfrey Reggio (the American documentary filmmaker who made Koyaanisqatsi, Anima Mundi and Naqoyqatsi, the last two presented in Venice in 1991 and 2002), about the various cultural and environmental contradictions on our planet, by means of rigorous and fascinating dichotomies that develop through the use of creative editing of the documentary images, backed by a suggestive music score.

Kossakovsky explained: “Traveling in the a countryside of Argentina, I saw a man, fishing from a small bridge in a very small village. Under the sunset-light and that simple place looked for me like the most beautiful and peaceful place on Earth. I imagined – what if I were to extend this fishing line straight line further, through the center of the Earth? What will I see on the other side? Turned out, one of the most powerful, bustling and noisy cities of the planet – Shanghai.

Then I learned that since most of the planet covered by water, there are only a few inhabited land to land antipodal places. For instance, in all of Europe only Spain has an antipode – New Zealand. The US only have one state – Hawaii. Its antipode is Botswana, also the only such African country. We were also filming in the most beautiful and cinema-genic pair of all, in my opinion, Lake Baikal – Cape Horn.

Sometimes you have a good idea for a film but then when you really make it you realize that the idea is better than the reality of it.  With Vivan Las Antipodas! the opposite happened.  The idea was cool, but what I really found is unbelievable and surprising.”

Victor Kossakovsky is one of the most famous and admired Russian filmmakers, and one of the most important documentary filmmakers in the world. He has been making documentaries since 1989 and has won more than 100 awards in national and international festivals. Furthermore, retrospectives of his work have been presented in the most prestigious cultural centres, including the MOMA in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Kossakovsky became famous in 1992 with his documentary Belovy (The Belovs, 60’), which describes the life of a Russian farmer and his brother. The film won the Joris Ivens Prize at the IFDA, and was selected by Dutch critics as one of the finest documentaries of the twentieth century.

In 1997 he filmed the documentary Wednesday 19.07.1961 which portrays all the 74 people born in Leningrad on the same day as Kossakovsky himself. The film won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Berlinale in 1997.

In 1998, he followed with Pavel and LyalyaThe Jerusalem Romance, about two of his directing teachers who now live in Israel, about their love for each other and their argument about death. This became the first part of the subsequent trilogy I Loved You… (2000), which he made in collaboration with the BBC and German productions. The film won the prize for best documentary at the Festival de Montréal.

His 2003 film, the tragicomic Tishe! (Hush!), looks out from the window of Kossakovsky’s apartment in Saint Petersburg during the year the city was preparing for its three-hundredth anniversary. For this work, Kossakovsky was compared to Buster Keaton and the film was nominated for the European Film Academy award and the Joris Ivens prize, and was distributed in theatres and television channels around the world.

In 2006 he made the short documentary Svyato, 33 minutes dedicated to the theme of recognizing one’s self. A two-year old child is observed as he recognizes his reflection in a mirror for the first time. The film won the Golden Centaur at the Festival in Saint Petersburg.

Vivan Las Antipodas! is his new international project conceived for movie theatres and television across the world.