[Marxism] Russia's leading documentary film festival goes on despite attacks from culture minister

Thomas Campbell avvakum at gmail.com
Sun Dec 7 23:50:39 MST 2014

Doc Festival Goes on Despite Culture Minister Calling Head 'Anti-Russian'
By Sergey Chernov
Moscow Times
December 3, 2014

ArtDocFest, Russia's premiere documentary film festival, which runs Dec.
9-17, opens amid controversy following Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky's
public refusal to grant state support for the festival for allegedly
"anti-state" remarks made by its director Vitaly Mansky.

"No single project of Mansky, including ArtDocFest, will ever receive any
money as long as I am a culture minister," Medinsky was quoted as saying by
Interfax last month. Pro-Kremlin media followed suit, condemning Mansky for
his allegedly "anti-Russian" stance.

"Bravo, Vladimir Rostislavovich [Medinsky]! We have been waiting a long
time for when the state starts defending the country not only from external
enemies, but from the internal nest of vipers as well," the national
tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda wrote on Nov. 24. "Medinsky made it clear: The
state will no longer subsidize blatant haters of Russia."

Born in Lviv, Ukraine, the 50-year-old Mansky — an award-winning
documentary director — was one of more than 200 Russian filmmakers who
signed a statement against Russia's involvement in Ukraine in March. The
statement was released on March 8 as a reply to a letter from Ukrainian

"Dear friends and colleagues! We read your letter and listened to your
address with pain," they wrote in a letter that was called "We Are With
You" and posted on the Russian Filmmakers Union website.

"You are right to speak of an unprecedented anti-Ukrainian campaign
unleashed by Russian state channels and the people's uprising against
[ousted Ukrainian President Viktor] Yanukovych's shameful regime. Like you,
we are categorically against lies in covering the fateful events for
Ukraine and, all the more, against Russia's military intervention in

Three days later, the Culture Ministry reacted with its own open letter, in
which more than 500 cultural figures stated their support for the Kremlin's
line regarding Ukraine.

The festival features "Euromaidan: Rough Cut," a chronicle of the
three-month-long uprising of Kiev consisting of footage taken by young
Ukrainian filmmakers in the heart of events.

Starting on Nov. 21, 2013, as a mainly student protest against Yanukovych's
hasty deal with the Kremlin to withdraw from the planned agreement with the
European Union, it became a large-scale anti-Yanukovych revolt after the
young demonstrators were brutally beaten by riot police.

The other Ukrainian-themed film is "I Am Femen." Shot by Swiss director
Alain Margot, it follows artist and activist Oksana Shachko, one of the
founding members of the feminist art protest group Femen.

The group is notorious for its topless protests against sexism and
homophobia throughout Ukraine and across Europe. Figures that the group has
targeted since it formed in 2008 include Russian President Vladimir Putin
and Orthodox Patriarch Kirill.

The program also includes a film called "Donetsk People's Republic," by
British director Anthony Butts.

"The Invisible City" by Latvian director Viesturs Kairish is about a
30-year-old man who has been living in the Chernobyl exclusion zone for
almost 10 years in a bid to find peace and escape from modern civilization.

Other films include one about a war photographer in search of people he
once captured in his photographs ("Oleg Klimov: Letters to Myself" by Masha
Novikova), Tajik migrant workers in a Russian village ("Visitors" by Alexei
Sukhovei), a 9,200-kilometer hitchhiking journey from Moscow to Vladivostok
("Go Where I Don't Know" by Seryozha Kuznetsov), a young woman set to find
a rich man in Moscow ("Sweet Life" by Taisia Reshetnikova).

Mansky admitted that he would comply with the recent legislation
prohibiting obscenities by silencing the now-banned terms, which are
abundant in some of the films.

The festival is scheduled to open on Tuesday, Dec. 9, with "Threshold of
Fear," the last film by legendary Latvia-born documentary director Hercs

The epic documentary follows the controversial love story between Yigal
Amir, sentenced to life in prison for assassinating Israeli Prime Minister
Yitzhak Rabin, and Russian-born Larisa Trembovler, who first visited him in
custody for humanitarian reasons.

After Franks died at the age of 87 in Jerusalem in March 2013, his film —
which was 10 years in the making — was completed by Maria Kravchenko, who
joined the project as co-director four years ago.

ArtDocFest runs Dec. 9-17 at Formula Kino Gorizont, 21/10 Komsomolsky
Prospekt. Metro Frunzenskaya. 800-250-8025. ArtDocFest.ru.

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