Pussy Riot Headline Film Festival
Human rights film festival May 32 returns to St. Pete, screening four documentaries for the first time in the city.
Published: May 1, 2014 (Issue # 1808)
The human rights film festival, May 32, which will be held in the city next week, will feature five full-length documentaries, four of which have not yet been screened in St. Petersburg.
The festival will open with “Putin’s Games,” a documentary about the corruption surrounding the construction of the Olympic facilities in Sochi. Directed by Tel Aviv-based filmmaker Alexander Gentelev, the film took two years to research and film, and premiered at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam in November 2013.
Producer Simone Baumann said she was approached three times by Russians, who offered 600,000 euros for the film, apparently to prevent it from being released, while the International Olympic Committee reportedly declined to be interviewed and denied usage of its footage and even the word “Olympics” in the title.
The Winter Games in Sochi cost $50 billion — contrary to the estimated $12 billion cited when Russia bid to host the event in 2007. Just one example of the scale of the corruption is the 45-kilometer road to the Olympic Village, which was so expensive that it might as well have been “paved with gold or black caviar,” opposition politician and former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov said in the film.
The film also looks at the harm to the environment and human rights violations surrounding the Games.
“Pussy Riot — A Punk Prayer” by British director Mike Lerner and Russian director Maxim Pozdorovkin, follows what was described as a “show trial” of three of the members from feminist punk band Pussy Riot, who were arrested soon after their attempted anti-Putin performance at Russia’s main church in Moscow.
“Punk Prayer” was the subtitle of the song and the video for “Mother of God, Drive Putin Away,” criticizing Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill for openly supporting Putin as the president during his controversial presidential campaign, which was marked by a ban on opposition leaders to run for election, as well as heavy television censorship and mass protests.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were arrested on Mar. 3, 2012, a day ahead of the presidential election, while the third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was arrested two weeks later. To their surprise, they were charged with criminal misconduct motivated by religious hatred. A highly controversial trial followed, where the prosecutors referred to the church regulations set by the Council in Trullo held in 692 in Constantinople under Roman Emperor Justinian II, which resulted in two-year prison terms for the three in August 2012. Later, Samutsevich had her prison sentence suspended.
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