A film by Michal Kosakowski


Wednesday, January 23, 2013 was the rescheduled Flaherty NYC screening of Zero Killed, by Polish-born, Berlin-based artist Michal Kosakowski. The director and two of the film’s subjects, Sergio Figueroa and Dorit Oitzinger, were in attendance for a post-screening discussion with moderator Andy P. Smith. Zero Killed weaves staged murder fantasies together with interviews with those who thought them up. The film is based on a video installation comprised of 49 shorts in which subjects enact their own violent scenarios. For Kosakowski, constructing a film from the installation offered a way to transport the idea to a medium more accessible to a larger audience.

One challenge he faced in doing so was to find a balance between the use of interviews and the killing scenes themselves – before he conducted the interviews, an early rough cut of the film simply consisted of each scene sequentially. But “it just didn’t work, it was too spectacular, too exploitative,” said Kosakowski. Circa 2007, he revisited his subjects, interviewing them about their experiences acting out their violent fantasies. It had been over ten years since he’d first begun the project in 1996.

The interviews addressed a broad swath of topics, such as justice and revenge, defending one’s children, suicide, capital punishment, ex-girlfriends, embarrassment, jealousy, authority, and torture. There was a variety of characters and points of view, but at the core of the film was the ambiguous relationship between violent imagery and physical violence, between thought and action, fantasy and reality. “It asks more questions than it answers,” said Smith. The discussion ranged from the process and technique of filming murder scenes to the possible root of violence. In the few months since Zero Killed’s originally scheduled screening date, random acts of violence have increasingly become a topic of national discourse in the United States.

One audience member brought this up toward the end of the discussion, reminding Kosakowski of the potential political value of his work: “This is such a major discussion right now, and you’ve made a film about it.” Kosakowski denied intending to make a political statement, noting that he shot the videos in Europe quite a few years ago. He said that he intended to explore violent fantasy and its expression as a universal concept. “It’s timeless topic, you know…it seems sharper now, but it has always been here.”

Read the article on flahertyseminar.org

Vitus Wieser, Dorit Oitzinger, Michal Kosakowski, Jon Dieringer, Nico B., Andy P. Smith

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