Sandra Kogut

Whether in works of fiction or documentaries, it is always about mise en scène. The only reality that exists is the internal reality of a film.

A Brazilian woman of Hungarian origin, Sandra Kogut lived in France, then in the United States. For her, borders seem to exist just to be crossed. The same applies to her cinema: trained as a reporter and visual artist, her filmography combines documentary and fiction, going beyond the traditional bounds of those categories.

Published on 30/10/2019

2 min

After a degree in philosophy, Sandra Kogut began her career in the visual arts, creating installations and performances. In 1991, her project Parabolic People brought her to the attention of international critics. Having toured six major international cities (Rio, Dakar, Tokyo, New York, Moscow and Paris), she created a composite sketch of humanity in the form of a kaleidoscope.

In 2002, with Passagers d’Orsay, she developed a poetic approach to creating serendipitous encounters: in the galleries of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, she randomly asked visitors to stand in front of their favourite work and entrust themselves to her camera. Her work has been shown in the United States at the Harvard Film Archive in Cambridge, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, as well as in France at the Forum des Images in Paris.

Whether documentary or fictional, Sandra Kogut’s cinema focuses on capturing and portraying individuals’ journeys and emotions.

Moved by the story of her grandparents, who left Hungary to settle in Brazil in order to escape the Holocaust, the director felt the need to tell it. This resulted in a feature film which she called Hungarian Passport (“Passeport hongrois") (2001). As she applies for Hungarian nationality, which her grandparents lost, she turns the administrative process into a reflection on identity and origins.

In Mutum (2007), she focuses on the journey of a silent ten-year-old boy as he observes the harsh living conditions of farmers in the Brazilian Sertão. While this film was her first work of fiction, she used non-professional actors. To prepare and get to know each other, they lived together for two months in the house where the film was shot. This authentic, immersive method gives the work its strength and energy.

Praised at international documentary festivals since the release of her first short films, Sandra Kogut received a Special Mention at the International Film Festival in Marseille (FIDMarseille) in 1998 for her short film Adieu au monde ou l'histoire de Pierre et Claire.

Her first feature film, Hungarian Passport was awarded a Special Mention in 2002 at the Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival. But it was with her work of fiction, Mutum, that Sandra Kogut achieved major international visibility thanks to its selection at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival Directors’ Fortnight.

  • 1988


    Sandra Kogut makes her first documentary film, Paralamas do Sucesso.

  • 1993


    Sandra Kogut produces En Français, a short film combining fiction and documentary.

  • 2007


    Mutum is selected for the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes (France) and the Toronto International Film Festival (Canada).

  • 2015


    Campo Grande has its world premier in the "Cinema of the Contemporary World" section at the Toronto International Film Festival (Canada).

The Institut français and the artist

In 2018, Sandra Kogut received support from the Institut français as part of the Aide aux cinémas du monde programme.


This Institut français programme provides support to foreign film-makers for film projects co-produced with France, whether they be feature-length fiction, animated films or creative documentaries. Find out more about the Aide aux cinémas du monde programme

L'institut français, LAB