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still from Babi Yar. Context (Sergei Loznitsa, NL/UA 2021)

Babi Yar. Context

Sergei Loznitsa / NL, UA, 2021 / 121 min.

A reconstruction based entirely on archive footage of the mass execution in 1941 of some 33,000 Jews, in a ravine near the then German-occupied city of Kiev. From the lead up to the massacre to its aftermath.

poster IDFA 2021

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.

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Sergei Loznitsa

Production year




Original title

Babi Yar. Context


121 min.





Part of

IDFA 2021

Documentary lovers, keep November 17 to 28 free in your calendar. The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam presents its 34th edition in cinemas throughout Amsterdam, including several special programs in Eye.

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campaign image IDFA 2021
still from Babi Yar. Context (Sergei Loznitsa, NL/UA 2021)
still from Babi Yar. Context (Sergei Loznitsa, NL/UA 2021)
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