Both a successful documentary about the filmmaking process and a resonant metaphor for the state of Russia today, its murky past and uncertain future, Antoine Cattin and Pavel Kostomarov's “Playback” chronicles the failure of eminent director Alexei German to bring to term a long-cherished film project – an adaptation of the science-fiction novel “Hard to Be a God” by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. In their own way, Cattin and Kostomarov filmed the same story: the “wild planet” is actually the film set of “How Hard It Is to Be God”, and the God in question is, naturally, German, with his emotional peaks, impossible orders, and a level of abuse towards his film crew that has never been so crudely documented and makes Herzog look like a Backyardigan when put next this autocrat from Leningrad. Apart from its echoes and metaphors (there are plenty of both), “Playback” is a unique opportunity to peek at a creative process in its most wild state of splendor. The film is also a personal statement by the Swiss-born Cattin, a long-term resident in Saint Petersburg, of his ambivalent feelings towards his adopted second homeland.

Festivals and Awards

Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival (2013) – Special Mention of the Jury 2013
Message to Man International Film Festival, Saint Petersburg (2012) - Elephant Prize from Russian Guild of Film Critics and Pavel Kogan Prize for the Best Russian Documentary
Visions du Réel International Documentary Film Festival, Switzerland (2012)
Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Czech Republic (2012)

Antoine Cattin and Pavel Kostomarov

Antoine Cattin was born in 1975 in Saignelégier. He finished his studies in History, Cinema and Russian at the University of Lausanne in 2001 after which he worked as editor of the journal “Hors-Champ”. Cattin relocated to Russia to work as an assistant director to Sergei Loznitsa and has since been living in both Russia and Switzerland. Cattin has been working independently as well as with Pavel Kostomarov, a Moscow native of the same age.

Pavel Kostomarov was born in 1975 in Moscow. From 1992 to 1996, he studied engineering at the Institute of Biology in Moscow. In 2002 he graduated from the State Film Institute (VGIK) as a cinematographer. He has worked on a number of films as a cinematographer with directors Sergei Loznitsa, Victor Asliuk, Alexey Uchitel and Alexei Popogrebsky.

Their co-directed film “Peaceful Life” (2005) won the Silver Dove at Dok Leipzig in the category of Documentary Films under 45 min and “The Mother” was nominated to European Film Academy Documentary Award/Prix Arte in 2008.

Filmography of A. Cattin ir P. Kostomarov

The Transformer / Transformator (2003)
Peaceful Life / Mirnaja zhyzn (2004)
The Mother / Mat (2007)


Directors: Antoine Cattin, Pavel Kostomarov                                                         Scriptwriter: Antoine Cattin                                                                               Cinematography: Antoine Cattin, Pavel Kostomarov                                                  Sound: Antoine Cattin, Adrien Kessler                                                                       Film Editing: Antoine Cattin                                                                               Producer: Elena Hill                                                                                       Production: Les Films Hors-Champ                                                                    Switzerland, Russia, 2012, 67 min.