Screened as part of NZIFF 2014

An Invincible Defeat 2013

Un’invincible sconfitta

Directed by Cafi Mohamad

Two Italian filmmakers visit veterans of the Soviet space programme and juxtapose 50-year-old visions of the future – in archive footage, monuments and memorabilia – with their present-day tales of the past.

Italy In French and Russian with English subtitles
55 minutes B&W / DigiBeta



Luca Cusani


Cafi Mohamad
Francesco Cannito


Mauro Magnani
Luca Bossi
Sergio Cocchi

Made by two Italian filmmakers, this artful recollection of the Soviet space programme interweaves archival footage of such mythical beings as Laika the space-travelling dog and handsome Yuri Gagarin with proud reminiscences from surviving veterans of that glorious era. Their nostalgia isn’t unchecked in the film’s design: a prankish collector of space age memorabilia – with which this film abounds – recalls the teacher who inspired him with a vision of the perfect Communist state due by the year 2000. The American moon landing and the accidental death of Gagarin were to take the heat out of the space race long before then. Although rockets are still launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, it’s clear that many of the veterans feel that their achievements have been consigned to the flea market of history, along with the regime that made them heroes.  In 21st-century Moscow, where a jewel-encrusted four-poster bed for a dog is considered newsworthy, an elderly couple who met on the space programme raise a glass to the future.  Maybe a new generation will be excited by something more genuinely amazing than bling, as they once were by a dog in space.