A film by Michal Kosakowski


by Peter Wong | Beyond Chron, Nov 29, 2012

Michal Kosakowski’s festival closer “Zero Killed” rightfully disturbs those with pat answers to the mass shootings reported on America’s nightly news.

Since 1996, Kosakowski has filmed enactments of people’s murder fantasies. The director’s only caveat is that the fantasist performs onscreen as either a killer or a victim. These homicide enactments utilize everything from poisoning to mass school shootings. Excerpts from these short films get paired with semi-classical music and present day interviews with the film participants regarding the intersection between killing another human being and society.

True to the title of Kosakowski’s film, nobody actually dies in these staged enactments. Yet the blood sprays and brutal shootings depicted in these murder fantasies will raise doubts in viewers’ minds.
Are these homicide fantasists a danger to society? If one were to judge by these fantasists’ onscreen interviews, none of their faces display mental illness or sociopathic calculation. Yet does the power to imagine considering using a victim’s nose for stew meat makes that speculating person a potential killer? Or does the experience of facing the darker parts of their nature make these murder fantasists emotionally stronger than advocates of behavioral suppression?

Kosakowski’s documentary avoids drawing conclusions. But it is clear from the subjects’ statements that their simulated killing experiences give their thoughts on violence in society greater complexity and depth. A woman who uses instant messaging to direct a killing initiates a discussion on whether drone-directed killings constitute murder. What one subject calls “thinking like an American” means thinking about effective torture methods.

The Kay Howard character on “Homicide” had been disturbed by learning first-hand that anyone is capable of murder. “Zero Killed” may not contradict that truth. But its fictional catharses offer hope that people can control the impulse to kill another human being.

“Zero Killed” screens at 7 PM on December 9, 2012 at Terra Gallery (511 Harrison St., SF).
For further information about these films and to order advance tickets, go to

Read the review on beyondchron.org

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