From his window, Victor Kossakovsky filmed the endless roadwork on a St. Petersburg street over the course of a year, during endless roadwork in preparation for the city’s 300th anniversary celebration in 2003. Time and again, the street is ripped open and repaved. The film shows each repair from the same point of view, but with different lenses, at various times of day and in varying styles – realistic, surreal, abstract. “Tishe,” which is Russian for “Hush,” is the only word spoken in the film.
Kossakovsky describes Tishe! as “a comedy.” The work was inspired by both the first picture in the history of photography, View from the Window at Le Gras (1826-1827) by Nicéphore Niépce, and the short story Des Vetters Eckfenster (My Cousin’s Corner Window, 1822) by E. T. A. Hoffman. The latter tells the story of a paralyzed man whose sole contact with the outside world is the view from his window. Kossakovsky made what he calls an “accidental” film: “We don’t normally look at things that are right in front of us. This is in a way an example of what can evolve right in front of your eyes if you care to look.”
Extended Q&A with the director Victor Kossakovsky and the sound designer Alexander Dudarev after the film.
Photo: Alexander Dudarev.
This Eye on ART program has been curated in collaboration with the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA).
Viktor Kossakovsky’s “10 Rules of Filmmaking”:
- Don’t film if you can live without filming.
- Don’t film if you want to say something – just say it or write it. Film only if you want to show something, or you want people to see something. This concerns both the film as a whole and every single shot within the film.
- Don’t film if you already knew your message before filming – just become a teacher. Don’t try to save the world. Don’t try to change the world. Better if your film will change you. Discover both the world and yourself whilst filming.
- Don’t film something you just hate. Don’t film something you just love. Film when you aren’t sure if you hate it or love it. Doubts are crucial for making art. Film when you hate and love at the same time.
- You need your brain both before and after filming, but don’t use your brain during filming. Just film using your instinct and intuition.
- Try to not force people to repeat an action or words. Life is unrepeatable and unpredictable. Wait, look, feel and be ready to film using your own way of filming. Remember that the very best films are unrepeatable. Remember that the very best films were based on unrepeatable shots. Remember that the very best shots capture unrepeatable moments of life with an unrepeatable way of filming.
- Shots are the basis of cinema. Remember that cinema was invented as one single shot – without any story. Or story was just inside that shot. Shots must first and foremost provide the viewers with new impressions that they never had before.
- Story is important, but perception is even more important. Think, first, what the viewers will feel while seeing your shots. Then, form a dramatic structure of your film using the changes to their feelings.
- Documentary is the only art, where every esthetical element almost always has ethical aspects and every ethical aspect can be used esthetically. Try to remain human, especially whilst editing your films. Maybe, nice people should not make documentaries.
- Don’t follow my rules. Find your own rules. There is always something that only you can film and nobody else.
Kossakovsky’s biography and filmography can be found here: