Milestone Films

Dziga and His Brothers

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The fascinating and tumultuous lives of Mikhail, Boris and Denis Kaufman (better known as Dziga Vertov) are the focus of this powerful documentary. Using rare archival footage from Russian state film archives and private collections, the brothers' lives and art are traced from Bialystok to Moscow, Paris, and Hollywood.

Philadephia Weekly by Sam Adams

The Coppola clan has nothing on the Kaufmans, a family of geniuses to rival the Tenenbaums, even if their names may not immediately click in your head. Practitioners of impossible shots, editing/camera tricks and improvisation in general, brothers David, Moisey and Boris get highlighted in Yevgeni Tsymbal's succinct Russian doc. David Kaufman became Dziga Vertov, a last name he chose because it was Polish for "spinning top"-which is a perfectly apt description of his 1929 opus Man With the Movie Camera. If Movie Camera's not the best documentary ever made, it's at least the most visually ravishing. (As pointed out frequently enough to diminish its merits, the post-MTV filmmaker generation-and Leni Riefenstahl-would be nowhere without it.) The other two brothers went in different directions, though Moisey worked alongside Dziga on Movie Camera before their estrangement turned him into one of Dziga's doc-making rivals. (From the clips we see, he's just about his equal, too.) Boris, meanwhile, spread the style westward, first to France to work with Jean Vigo (L'Atalante), then to America, garnering him both an Oscar for shooting On the Waterfront and frequent employment by Sidney Lumet.

VILLAGE VOICE by J. Hoberman

David, Moisey, and Boris Kaufman—"perhaps the most talented brothers in the history of cinema" per film historian Yevgeni Tsymbal—were born in Bialystok (the "most Jewish town in Poland") to a used-book dealer and a rabbi's daughter. The town suffered a major pogrom during their childhoods, and their parents would eventually perish in the Holocaust, but the Kaufman brothers attended Russian school and reinvented themselves in the crucible of revolution: David most radically as docu-visionary Dziga. Mikhail (né Moisey) worked with his older brother—he is the title character in The Man With a Movie Camera—until they quarreled and he too became a director. Baby Boris went first to France, collaborating with Jean Vigo, and then to America. Dziga was targeted during Stalin's Cold War anti-cosmopolitan campaign; he suffered a heart attack and died in obscurity months before Boris won an Oscar for shooting On the Waterfront.

This DVD is also available for Institutional Purchase, which includes public performance rights and a 3-year streaming license. Please click on the “Format” button and select “DVD Institutional Rate.”

 An Explanation of Home, Classroom, and Public Performance Rights

Individuals and non-profit institutions purchasing at the DVD, DVD-R, or Blu-ray rate — or streaming at published rental and sales prices — are authorized to use the film only for private home screening and legitimate classroom showing (a regularly scheduled class with an instructor present), per the United States Copyright Law. You can learn more about the distinction between classroom and public performance screenings here.


US and Canadian nonprofit educational institutions that wish to show a film publicly outside of a scheduled class need to purchase DVDs, DVD-Rs, and Blu-rays at the institutional rate — which grants 3-year in-house streaming rights and an on-site public performance license. This in-house streaming license is for a term of three years from the date of purchase and grants the purchasing institution the right to stream over a single secure server with a password-protected connection. Streaming access must be strictly limited to currently enrolled students, faculty, and staff. Streaming rights extensions can be negotiated with Milestone after the initial three-year term has lapsed. Milestone retains the right to terminate this agreement at any time. No broadcast, Internet or other rights are granted or implied.These rights are for on-site use only per the license agreement. For more information on 

Similarly, US and Canadian nonprofit educational institutions that wish to show a film publicly outside of a scheduled class via Milestone’s streaming site must contact Milestone to arrange a separate public performance license. For more information, please email 

US and Canadian nonprofit educational institutions that wish to screen a DVD, DVD-R, or Blu-ray they already own in an open showing must purchase a public performance license. For more information, please email 

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Information for Exhibitors Screening DCPs and Film Prints

All bookings must be made by phone or email correspondence with Amy Heller (201.767.3117 or to negotiate terms and insure a screening copy is available. An order is only finalized when Milestone sends a written confirmation.

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DCPs should be returned to:

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Harrington Park, New Jersey 07640-0128
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35mm and 16mm prints are shipped insured for their cost via Federal Express or UPS and must be returned the same way or by an equivalent method. Please do not ship prints back via US Mail. Exhibitor pays to ship both ways. Shipping and handling charges for outgoing prints appear on your invoice. The immediate return of all prints is your responsibility.

Prints should be returned insured for $1,000 to:

Iron Mountain
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For public screenings, advertising materials can be requested by contacting

Milestone is the exclusive licensor for all the titles in this catalog, all of which are available here in their complete versions.


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