Unknown Quantity

Unknown Quantity

Germany | 2005 | DCP | Color | 67 mn | Andrei Ujica

MONDAY 7 | CINEMEX PLAZA INSURGENTES SALA 5 | 21:30 HRS | 67 MIN (english subtitles)

A debate between a media archaeologist/philosopher and a female journalist/writer about the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. Not only a material accident, but a tragedy about human knowledge because people are still unable to understand the fatal nature of the catastrophe. Film presentation (DVD) in V2_.Unknown Quantity features the staging of two conversations between Paul Virilio and Svetlana Alexievich.Paul Virilio is a media-archaeologist and philosopher, author of many world renowned essays. Svetlana Alexievich is a Russian journalist and author of award-winning book Voices from Chernobyl: Chronicle of the Future. Her book is a stirring account of life after the accident, written from the hundreds of interviews she made with the witnesses and victims of the tragedy. For both of them, Chernobyl is not just an accident of substance, it is also an accident of knowledge, in the sense that man cannot even perceive the deadly nature of the event.Andrei Ujica quite consciously chose to use DVD-format for this film and has developed his first cinematographic construct intended not for projection onto a screen but for display on a monitor, which incidentally is itself a part of the game.The only intentional allusion from the history of cinema is to Tarkovsky's Stalker. The viewer is gradually brought to realize that Svetlana Alexievich is in fact a stalker by profession. She has come from the dead zone to pay a visit to Virilio in a public library. And what is Virilio himself, if not a stalker who fled to the big city many years ago?

Born in 1951 in Timisoara, Romania. With a background in literature, Ujica decides in 1990 to devote himself to cinema and creates Videograms of a Revolution (1992), co-directed with Harun Farocki, which becomes a landmark film on the relationship between political power and the media in Europe at the end of the Cold War.  His second film, Out of the Present (1995), tells the story of cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, who spent ten months aboard the space station Mir, while on earth, the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Out of the Present has been compared to such emblematic titles in film history as 2001: A Space Odyssey or Solaris, and is famous for being one of the most recognized non-fictional films of the 90s. The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceaușescu (2010), widely regarded as a monumental achievement, concludes his trilogy dedicated to the end of communism. Andrei Ujica also made two commissioned works for Fondation Cartier pour l`art contemporain: 2 Pasolini (short, 2000) and Unknown Quantity, with Paul Virilio and Svetlana Alexievitch (installation 2002, screen version 2005).

Rotterdam Film Festival, 2005