Svyato is the first film in a planned trilogy (working title Palindrome) by director Victor Kossakovsky, who won the Joris Ivens Award (and the Audience Award) for Belovy at IDFA in 1993 and was nominated for the same ...展开award for Tishe! in 2002. In Russian, "Svyato" means both "happy, clear, joyful," as well as "considered holy." But Svyato is also the short form of Svyatoslav - the nickname of the two-year-old subject of this film. For the first time in his life, Svyato looks in the mirror. Simultaneously, his reflection is recorded by three HD cameras. Kossakovsky calls Svyato a film about "self-cognition and loneliness." "A baby can be surrounded by love; parents can play with him and teach him things, but no one can help him with the most important questions. Who am I? With a question like that, you are on your own. You can read a lot of books about love or God, but in the end, you are the only one who can answer the question as to whether they exist or not."
This film is a unique document of interest to psychologists and parents. Its theoretical basis is the discovery by the French psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan, presented in a paper first in 1936, of what he termed the mirror stage of development. His discovery and the concept was a genuine addition to Freud's theory of early development. We see the little Russian boy use a mirror for the first time. He sees the mirror image as an other being but then relates it to his own body and by that route to his self or "I". Lacan's observation established that from this point on the child first has a self and that it has been acquired by way of an other. Throughout life the self is assessed and validated by way of the other.