Babi Yar is the ravine at the edge of the Ukrainian capital Kiev where one of the largest mass executions in history took place. Sergei Loznitsa tells this documentary account in meticulous detail, building from the lead up to the aftermath of the two days in September 1941, when Nazis shot dead 33,771 Jews at this place.
The mass execution forms the silent core of this film constructed entirely from archive footage, to which sound has been added in some cases. Loznitsa used a similar technique in other films such as Blockade (2006), about the siege of Leningrad. By precluding almost any form of interpretation, he ensures that the archive footage speaks for itself. And speak it does. It bears inescapable witness to not only the atrocities, but also the subsequent compliance of the city and its inhabitants. We see posters of Hitler willingly stuck on windows, only to be scraped off after the occupation ends, in an act of erasure that the ravine site itself came to suffer as well.
Nominated for the Beeld en Geluid IDFA ReFrame Award