Winner of Grand Jury Prize

“Fascinating and haunting. The art of this slow motion brilliantly reveals the conflicted cracks of humanity within both ally and authority.”

– F3 Film Magazine


It took 6 rallies, 3 detentions, and 18 months to create this film, which utilizes slow motion to illuminate Russian law enforcement’s dispersement of peaceful protest events.

Director Profile

Данила Гулин

Director Bio :

Danila Gulin was born in Moscow in 1982. In order to finance his studies at the Institute of Contemporary Art in the department TV and radio journalism, he worked in a bookstore for 5 years. In the fourth year he dropped out of his studies to pursue a career as a music video director. He directed music videos for several indie bands, including Tequilajazzz, Naive, Amatory, ##### and My Lenin. Sergey Batishchev, also known as SILA, who later formed the band Teenage Arab and started the label Not For Fun Records, was playing in My Lenin at the time. Sergey Batishchev was born in Moscow in 1984. He studied journalism at the prestigious Moscow State University. In collaboration with Danila, he made his graduation film about the opposition rally. The concept of the film consists of 3 different perspectives on the events: the first is in the genre of “no commentary”, the second in the context of the Renaissance and the third in the video context of eight-bit games []. After graduating, Sergey worked in advertising as a copywriter and most recently as a creative director, sometimes overlapping with Danila, who was also working in advertising at the time. In 2013 Sergey decided to leave Russia with his friend Ivan Pribylov, with whom they formed the band Teenage Arab, the experimental hip-hop project ACIDHOP. A and recorded material for In 2015, Danila was invited as a universal specialist to help set up a video production company in Sri Lanka. He made a film that was screened at festivals – “Learn to play the game” []. Danila edited the video and started writing the music. Sergey had been living in nearby Thailand (on the island of Koh Phangan, where he has his own small studio overlooking the ocean) for four years at this point. At the first opportunity, Danila flew to Thailand where they composed the soundtrack and finished the audio. As a reward, Sergey asked for a video for his music project, Teenage Arab. Danila returned to Russia. He tried to get elected to the city council, got married and divorced, while continuing to participate in peaceful rallies. In 2018, the first version of the film was released. There was footage from a rally – unofficially called “He is not our king” – on May 5, 2018. The finale of that version was rather weak, but there were many more opportunities to film. After the hot Moscow summer of 2019 with a record number of arrests, Danila managed to capture a lot of captivating footage – enough to complete the film “Cosmonauts” with music by Teenage Arab.


Teenage Arab is the music project of SILA (Sergey Batischev) and Zichy (Ivan Pribylov), two long-time contributors to the local underground rock scene from Moscow. Both have been active since the turn of the millennium. Inspired by the Russian rave revival that took place around 2010, Sila and Zichy began experimenting with new musical forms, combining the genre-bending potential of software-driven technology with a strong and playful punk attitude that is all 1977. As a side project of Teenage Arab, SILA and Zichy formed the experimental hip-hop band ACIDHOP.


– The Russians call the cops ‘cosmonauts’ because of their big helmets.
– The director has been arrested by police 6 times since 2011.
– The director has filmed at 6 rallies, but only used footage at three of them. At the first rally the director was arrested too quickly; the other two were ‘approved’, leaving our protagonists idle.
– Two shots were taken by a well-known Russian blogger, Ilya Varlamov.
– One shot (the quintessence) was taken by Zosia Rodkevich, Radio Liberty’s camerawoman.
– The rest of the footage was 90% shot with a Lumix GH5 with Voitlander 10.5 and 50mm lenses and the G 14-140, the author of the film.
– Danila Gulin managed to get a press pass only after his 6th incarceration, but he never used it.
– The entire film and some shots in particular were processed with a neural network to increase the resolution and the number of frames per second.
– During production, more than 9 thousand citizens were arrested at peaceful rallies and lone pickets.

Director Statement :

The main characters in our film are police officers who have been ordered to break up a peaceful rally. An order that in reality contradicts the constitution of their country. We follow how they deal with this dilemma, what they feel and think, thanks to a combination of different techniques drawn from different genres of music videos and documentaries. The captured horror and beauty seem to be slowed down sevenfold, broadening the viewer’s perception and revealing the whole picture behind the demonstrations and the inner conflict of the people. It took 6 demonstrations, 3 arrests and 18 months to make this film.

Paintings and photographs can be perceived as perpetual slow motion, so footage with slow motion effects reminds us of the Renaissance era. When we scan reality at 180 frames per second, we become like a fly or a god.

A person can experience this in reality as well, but only in extreme situations. A burst of adrenaline can cause neural transmissions to speed up and suddenly a baton freezes, gravity drops, and tiny dust particles hang in the air… A person who experiences this invariably remembers it for a lifetime. With such altered perception, government employees turn into astronauts from another planet, black angels, Martians who attack the city to kidnap people and steal the sunlight. The film opens with a bright day that transitions into the finale, in which the sunset falls through the bars of a police van. In the scenes with the protesters, the sun shines all open and free. This is hope. The future of Russia is its young people. They want knowledge. They want openness, clarity and they follow the light.