A film by Michal Kosakowski

Press reviews


by Shirley Clemens | Thriller! Chiller! Blog! Oct. 10, 2012

Interview with director Michal Kosakowski on the occassion of Zero Killed’s Michigan Premiere on October 10, 2012 at 4:30pm at the Thriller! Chiller! Film Festival

The film “Zero Killed” is strikingly similar to other documentaries we’ve played at Thriller! Chiller! by the fact that it is so thoughtful of our own experiences as movie watchers. It can be said that watching a movie like this at a film festival dares to ask the viewer: “Why do you watch movies?” It dares to explore what is universal to all human beings who experience the horror/thriller genre and ask them how they deal with their own inappropriate fantasies and thoughts.

1. It was a long haul making this film come together over the course of a decade. Tell us about the emotional impact of these stories on you personally and why you felt the need to tell them?

First of all, the process of doing this project had a very personal approach. Since I was born in Poland and since I grew up during the times of communism, my access to western movies, or, generally speaking, the access to media, was very limited. My first touch with horror was a rare presentation of the music clip of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” when it was aired at late night in the polish television. I was immediately gripped by the “fantastic” and at some point violent theme of this clip. I wanted to do clips like this by myself. But it was only after my family and I moved to Austria in the 80’s, where I discovered a video library that was something completely new to me. I was thrilled to have this huge range of videos that I could select by myself and watch them whenever I wanted to. This was also the time where my father bought his first VHS-C Camcorder, so I immediately felt like using this tool to fulfill my fantasies that I was constantly dreaming of. (more…)


Raindance TV interviews Michal Kosakowski about his film Zero Killed at the 20th Raindance Film Festival.

Watch the interview on Raindance.TV
Watch the interview on YouTube


See the interview on youtube.com

Since 1996 Michal Kosakowski has been asking people, from all walks of life, about their murder fantasies, turning their dark confessions into short films on the condition that his subjects act in them, allowing them to live out their fantasies. This film brings those shorts together with interviews from his ‘murderers’ and ‘victims.’

There’s something for everyone in the grim realisations of their homicidal daydreams, some are darkly comic, some brutal and drab, there’s torture, poisoning, assassination, even a philosophical suicide. Kosakowski has succeeded, often eerily so, in creating depictions of murder that teeter perilously between fantasy and snuff. Amongst this the contributions from his participants ruminate on the simple desire to kill, how it can become intermingled with daily frustrations and what would drive someone to perhaps make the fantasy a reality.

Scenarios vary, from a farmer musing about the character required to kill a sheep, something he has to do on a daily basis, to a soldier pondering the justification for their actions, or the seemingly universal desire for murderous revenge if someone harmed your children. Kosakowski tantalisingly keeps his subject’s careers anonymous, leaving the viewer to create their own little fantasies about what they do for a living and how that may have influenced their make-believe murder.

A strangely playful film, this is in turns a riveting, wince-inducing succession of nightmare scenarios and at once an arch, wry look at the cruellest fantasies that ordinary people harbour.


by Ivan Radford | I-Flicks, Sept 30, 2012

I’m gonna kill him! How many times have you said that? What if you went one step further and actually thought about how you’d do it? That’s what director Michal Kosakowski asked people all around the world – on the condition that if they were going to share their murder fantasy, they had to act it out in front of the camera.

The result is a halfway house between social study and snuff movies – a disturbing look at the dark side of human nature. Sound unpleasant? It is. Kosakowski spent 10 years on the project (presumably the Midsomer Murders DVD box set had sold out), getting subjects to reflect on what they did several years down the line.

“The memory is still so fresh…” says one, before we see his short film. It’ll probably stay fresh for some time – even for those in the audience. Each murder is unsettlingly believable, shot with a gritty feel, cutting away as a bell rings to mark the kill. But for all its grimy realism, the bright, sterile vox pops are what really get under the skin.

Some laugh about what they did. Others are less serious. “I’ve always wanted to know what it would be like to push someone into a volcano,” jokes one guy, drily. Meanwhile, almost all of them, it turns out, would gladly kill if it meant revenge for a loved one.

“I believe it has a lot to do with self-esteem,” suggests one woman. “If you respect yourself, how can you not value someone else?”

She’s backed up by the inclusion of a young man’s fake suicide – a quiet moment that’s probably the most harrowing thing in the whole film. (more…)


by Spencer Hawken | Socyberty, Sept 29, 2012

A documentary filmmaker asks a group of people how they would like to kill someone, then allows them to live out that fantasy.

In 1996 filmmaker Michael Kosakowski started talking to people from different backgrounds about murder. He asked the people involved about if they were to murder someone, how they would do it? He offered the people involved the opportunity to carry out their wishes (obviously through acting), as long as they were the ones who performed the murders themselves. Ten years after carrying out the project, he returned to see those same people, to look at their murders, and ask them their views on the killings, and how they feel now, about their murders, and the society we live in.

Zero Killed is an intriguing documentary, with a variable sliding scale of depressive scenes and attitudes, to very light hearted moments, and hysterical “deaths”. Of course on a movie that focuses on death however, it is bound to be the more depressive points that dominate the agenda.

Kosakowski makes a very profound, but ultimately very true statement with his film. The movie is a very surreal experience; to hear the people involved discussing murder in the same way you may talk about going to the shops to buy a loaf of bread is a very sobering aspect. (more…)


by Katerina Sakkas | BlackSpotHorror, Sept 27, 2012

The Killer Inside: Michal Kosakowski’s Zero Killed

“There’s a killer lurking inside each of us,” asserts one of the participants in Michal Kosakowski’s documentary-cum-thought experiment Zero Killed (2011).  In 1996 Kosakowski made a series of short films based on the murder fantasies of a handful of people from a variety of backgrounds.  The only rule was that each person must act in his or her fantasy, either as victim or killer.  More than a decade on, the director interviewed his subjects about their experiences of the initial project.  These interviews are interspersed with grabs from the original ‘murder films.’  The result is uncomfortably fascinating.

The subjects appear to enter into these simulations of torture, bashing, shooting and slashing with relish—a couple indeed seem slightly unhinged (especially the man who admits to having hit his daughter on several occasions).  From reminiscences about their filmed fantasies, the participants move on to larger questions addressing the meaning of ‘evil,’ the human potential for violence, killing in a wartime context, high school massacres, media desensitisation and the justification of torture in interrogation.

Watching these violent simulations and listening to the motivations behind them is a strange experience, more disturbing in a way than viewing a violent horror film, where not only do you know it’s fake, but also that it has been devised on some level as a work of imagination.  In Zero Killed, the link between participants and subject matter in these short films is so direct that the boundary between fantasy and reality becomes blurred.  Fake reality; real fantasy.  Adding another level of bizarreness to the viewing experience was the fact that I recognised one of the subjects as someone I’d been at art school with years ago.  Fortunately, he was in a minority of actors who chose to be victim rather than perpetrator!

Kosakowski’s seemingly perverse exercise brings to light the sobering notion that in a society stripped of laws, regulations and basic morality, life is pretty cheap.

Read the review on blackspothorror.com


See the interview on oldenburger-lokalteil.de
See the interview on youtube.com

by Amon Thein | Oldenburger Lokalteil, Sept 21, 2012

Interview in German!

Last week filmmaker Michal Kosakowski showed his semi-documentary film “Zero Killed” at the Oldenburg International Film Festival – strong stuff in shaky images. Some viewers left shocked the cinema, one should have even thrown the ticket in the face of the moderator RP Kahl. In the video interview with Amon Thein Kosakowski explains what is behind the film and why you should definitely talk about murder fantasies.


by Harrison Engstrom | Sticky Trigger Entertainment, Sept 15, 2012

A documentary about the murder fantasies of everyday people, shot by everyday people, is an interesting experiment. However, without any premise or statement, the audience is left in the dark about the director’s purpose. We understand that this is a documentary about the darkness of ourselves, but is it showing the true nature of humanity or the freedom of cathartic art or something else entirely? (more…)


by Chard Core | artsHub, Sept 7, 2012

German director Michal Kosakowski explores the intricacies of death in its various forms in his feature length debut documentary, Zero Killed. Over ten years in the making, the film asks people from everyday life, from all over the world, to share something special, something undeniably intimate; specifically, their ‘murder fantasies’.

Don’t roll your eyes, we all have them.

The ultimate elephant in the room, death will eventually consume us all. Even though we’ve been taught to repress thoughts of it, its shadow stretches across our lives and manifests in countless ways.

The ways Kosakowski’s nameless participants process death, and expand upon their thoughts about it when given free reign by him to do so, lies at very centre of Zero Killed. (more…)

The Killer Within

An interview with Michal Kosakowski | Deutsche Welle, April 5, 2012

Murder, mayhem, violence: Where do such fantasies originate? A conversation with film-maker Michal Kosakowski, who made normal people act out fantasies they usually keep under wraps. A glimpse into the interior life of people just like you and me.

For more than 15 years Viennese film-maker Michal Kosakowski has been dealing with fantasies of murder and mayhem in a number of art projects. He interviewed people about whether and how they would kill somebody and then gave them the opportunity to act out these fantasies on videos – as perpetrators or victims. His many years of dealing with the subject first led to the widely publicised video installation “Fortynine” in which viewers are exposed to the simultaneous onslaught of hundreds of murder videos and, eventually, to a film that juxtaposes these murder fantasies with interviews in which the participants comment on them. The title “Zero Killed” is programmatic, however: as far as we know, none of the participants has ever committed a felony in reality. And yet the film affords alarming insights into the inner life of so-called normal people. (more…)

The Killer Deep Down Inside

by Olaf Przybilla | Press review | Sueddeutsche Zeitung, March 31, 2012

Death must be at home in Vienna: At the Erlanger Kunstpalais artists enquire after fantasies of blood and the images in one’s own mind.

The exhibition ‘Töten’ (‘Killing’) at the Erlanger Kunstpalais is best explored backwards, downside up, so to say: first down to the basement of the house, to the last exhibition space of the Palais that was established two years ago, right on the city’s most representative square. An art palace, complete with public library, in a medium-sized town – not exactly the place in which one would expect to be confronted with downright disturbing art. Yet that is precisely what one finds in Erlangen, and nowhere more nightmarish than in the exhibition’s last room in which 12 artists deal with one and the same subject – killing.

Down to the basement then. This is where Michal Kosakowski shows his video installation ‘Do You Have Murder Fantasies?’, less a work in the classic sense than some sort of epic. It takes time to unravel the Viennese artist’s visual conundrum. Those who do are likely to sleep uneasily but not to regret their efforts. It would take six hours to see every single scene of the installation, and at least two hours to form an impression of a work that is a visual maelstrom.

When entering the room, one is at first faced by what looks like utter chaos, a twitching kaleidoscope of 49 films. One immediately suspects that they show terrifying things, yet at first that is all. There is sound, but it takes a while before one realizes that it comes from only one of the films at a time. Successively, one thus concentrates on the soundtrack that goes with one of the squares, while the 48 others display killing in various sorts and manners. (more…)

Meeting Zones of Injured Bodies

by Patrick Bühler | Interview with Michal Kosakowski | Splatting Image Magazine Nr. 85, March 2011

Experimental filmmaker, documentarist and media artist Michal Kosakowski’s collaborators include controversial photographer Oliviero Toscani as well as the director of the Venice Film Festival, Marco Müller. As preparation for the following interview I’ve selected from Kosakowski’s impressive body of work pieces where he deals with the murder fantasies that quite normal people – most of them, possibly, without any notable police record – from Austria, Germany and Poland, indulge in. Kosakowski gave their fantasies cinematic and dramaturgical support. Over several years (1996–2007) this work developed into his kaleidoscopic project ‘Fortynine’, a collection of short films, which has now mutated into the recent documentary fiction ‘Zero Killed’ (2011), for which self-reflexive interviews with the ‘murderers’ were added. My intention was to talk with him about the meeting zones in which bodies are penetrated, be it with murder weapons, genitals, or other implements. It is in such zones that the term hardcore regains its original interpretation: this is about the core of libidinal behaviour patterns which, emotionally charged to breaking point, are released in a consistent and forceful manner that could hardly be more trivial. It is my conclusion that the murders in their violent depictions meet the pornography of extremes, complete with stranglings, beatings, ejaculations, vomiting, and painful anal penetration. And yet it all remains within the scope of what can be found in the commercial sex film business and its availability via video rental shops, mail order, and the Internet – it’s just that bit harder than hardcore, that’s all. And it is precisely this banality of violence and sex that is subject to massive taboos (who talks about it?) and ostensible (?) libidinal sub-complexity. (more…)