graduate students from Marina Razbezhkina and Mikhail Ugarov’s Documentary
Filmmaking and Theater School did what the Russian media establishment was
largely incapable of. They covered the
2012 Russian presidential election and the surrounding protests fairly and
accurately. Inseparable from their
cameras over the dramatic two month span, the ten budding documentarians
captured some chilling moments of “democracy at work” in Winter, Go Away (trailer here), which screens this Saturday in Astoria,
Queens, as part the Museum of the Moving Image’s second annual First Look film
the record, the ten filmmakers are: Elena Khoreva, Denis Klebleev, Dmitry
Kubasov, Askold Kurov, Nadezhda Leonteva, Anna Moiseenko, Madina Mustafina,
Sofia Rodkevich, Anton Seregin, and Alexey Zhiryakov. Remember those names
(that’s a dare). Although none of Winter’s scenes are specifically
credited to a contributing filmmaker, the sheer volume of newsworthy footage speaks
highly of them as a group.
painful realities quickly emerge in Winter. The Putin campaign is highly organized, while
the divided opposition is not. With the not-so-quasi state media firmly in his
pocket, Putin probably need not have fixed the election. Yet, it is pretty darn clear he did exactly
that, based on the video recorded in poll sites on election.
cooking the voter rolls, local election officials refuse to turn over
documentation to poll watchers.
Mysterious buses show up with ostensive voters, who are a bit touchy
about being filmed. When opposition
groups stage protests, the police respond with violence. In one jaw-dropper of an incident, they
literally grab an opposition spokesman in mid-sentence while he is giving an
on-camera interview to a reporter.
Winter should instill
shock and outrage in viewers, but let us not forget there were similar
instances of election shenanigans and intimidation reported in Philadelphia
later in 2012. Indeed, the suspicious
busloads of “voters” demonstrate why stricter voter ID laws would serve the
interests of democracy.
Go Away is a wildly frustrating experience, but the truly independent
filmmakers deserve enormous credit for their journalistic integrity. They documented actual crimes the Russian and
international media has cravenly ignored.
Highly recommended for all Russophiles, Russophobes, journalism
students, and media critics, Winter, Go
Away screens this Saturday (1/12) during the 2013 First Look at the Museum
of the Moving Image.
Labels: Documentary, First Look '13, Putin Regime, Russian Cinema