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Film Selection: Russia



Director: Cyril Tuschi

Year: 2011

Country: Germany

Length: 111 min

Mikhail Khodorkovsky was once the richest man in Russia. Today, he's one of the world's most famous political prisoners. A story of Shakespearean proportions, The New York Times has reported on Khodorkovsky in both its news and op-ed pages. Fascinating interviews with Khodorkovsky (sometimes sitting in a glass box in the courtroom), members of his family, and others portray a country transformed from its moribund Communist past to one in which power-hungry politicians are abetted by a corrupt, drunken and cynical younger generation. Stark black and white animated sequences help tell an amazing back-story that plays like a political thriller.

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Justice for Sergei

Director: Hans Hermans and Martin Maat

Year: 2010

Country: Netherlands

Length: 52 min

The award winning documentary film on Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died in November 2009 at the age of 37 under excruciating circumstances in a Moscow detention centre. His death fuelled international outrage, but inside Russia the corrupt government officials responsible were never brought to justice. Justice for Sergei tells the story of an ordinary man who paid the ultimate price while trying to expose the extraordinary corruption gripping Russia today. In 2012, the film won the Cinema for Peace Award for Justice.

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Russianlessons.jpgRussian Lessons

Director: Olga Konskaya and Andrei Nekrasov

Year: 2010

Country: Norway, Russia, Georgia

Length: 110 min

The film starts as a journey by the two directors-protagonists. Olga and Andrei, on the two sides of the frontline during the Russian-Georgian was in August 2008. A film on such a hot political (and geopolitical) subject first of all establishes emotional contact with the audience by depicting human drama, before coming up with political conclusions. They emerge naturally and powerfully as overwhelming evidence of Russian imperialist plot shows through the Russian media smokescreen as well as mistakes and naivety of the Georgians. The filmmakers return to their St. Petersburg studio loaded with unique footage and evidence which they analyze in the process of film-editing. This process is intertwined in the film's narrative and the viewer gets a sense of partaking in it. In this way the filmmakers are able to come to forceful conclusions without slipping into propaganda and prejudice that charachterize too many films about the August war. Importantly the film puts the recent war in context of the post-Soviet history which has managed to keep its darkest secrets away from the international public's attention despite dozens of relevant UN resolutions. At the same time as Milosevic was earning the reputation of the biggest evil of the post-communist world, Russia was sponsoring and conducting the campaign of terror and ethnic cleansing against the Georgian population of integral parts of Georgia, with cruelty exceeding that of the war in former Yugoslavia.

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LettertoAnna.jpgLetter to Anna

Director: Eric Bergkraut

Year: 2008

Country: Switzerland, Germany

Length: 83 min

Hard-hitting documentary which addresses one of the most disturbing incidents during Vladimir Putin’s presidential term: The systematic killing of Anna Politkovskaya. Through the view of Politkovskaya this documentary takes the pulse of Russian’s situation. Contains much exclusive footage of Anna Politkovskaya. On October 7, 2006, Vladimir Putin’s 54th birthday, the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya is shot in the lift of her Moscow apartment. Anna’s death is a personal tragedy: she has just learnt that she‘s to become a grandmother. But the murder is also a political act, for Politkovskaya was the President’s fiercest critic. Why was she shot in cold blood, this elegant woman who was always on the side of the weak and those who had no rights? Was it because of the stance she took against the war in Chechnya – a war that was virtually ignored in the world at large and yet became a turning point in Anna’s life? Letter to Anna – a personal quest, but also a political film. Includes interviews with Elena Kodumowa, Anna Politkovskaya’s sister Ilya Politkovski, Anna Politkovskaya’s son Alexander Politkovski, ex-husband of Anna Politkovskaya, Dimitri Muratov Editor in Chief Novaja Gazeta, former colleague Andrei Mironov dissident who visited Stockholm with Anna Politkovskaya three weeks before her murder, Elena Tregubova Russian journalist living in exile, Garry Kasparov former world chess champion, leader of Russia’s opposition and Boris Beresovsky the oligarch who once “made” Putin.

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Coca.jpgCoca, the Dove From Chechnya

Director: Eric Bergkraut

Year: 2005

Country: Switzerland, Russia

Length: 86 min

Chechen Human Rights activist Zainap Gashaeva is on a mission. She wants the world to wake up to the genocide happening in her country. She and her women comrades are putting their lives on the line. Will the world listen?

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