The docs included in the program are part of an exchange between Movies That Matter and the Moscovian Stalker Festival, which takes place every year in December. The Russian festival sent three of their best films to The Hague – Winter, go away!, 5 Minutes of Freedom and TomorrowRussian Libertine, a film about the writer and dissident Victor Erofeyev, was the fourth film in the program. In return, Movies That Matter will send three of the best Dutch productions to the Stalker Festival in December.

The Russian docs portray dissidence and civic engagement in Russia from different angles and through different stories. All four seem complementary and shed light over what it means to oppose Putin’s regime and to speak up your mind publicly in nowadays Russia.

And that’s not all. Human rights violations and corruption are part of the public image of Russia these days. What these films create is not the classical portrayal of these issues. Instead they give them depth and context, both necessary in order to understand not only how Russia is but also why Russia is the way it is right now.

5 MINUTES OF FREEDOM

Directed by Kirill Sakharnov.Ksenia Sakharnova,

Russia, 2012, 86 minutes.

In 1968, 15 years after Stalin’s death, public protest was unconceivable. That year Russia invaded Czechoslovakia. Only 7 people had the courage to denounce this abusive act. 5 Minutes of Freedom tells the story of these 7 people who had the unimaginable courage to go to the Red Square holding protest banners. The 5 minutes between the moment they sat with their banners and the moment the police came to take them away, signed their tickets for years in mental hospitals and work camps and eventually exile and early death. Through interviews, photos and nowadays images, the film draws a parallel between the lives of those 1968 protesters and the lives of a group of young civic activists in today’s Russia. Their stories mix in a portrayal of what was like to be a dissident in 1968 and what it means to be one today. Set against the bravery of the group of 1968, being a civic activist in today seems an easy option simply because activists are not sent to work camps anymore. But that doesn’t mean protesting in Putin’s Russia is safe. As the camera follows the young group, it becomes clear that speaking your mind in public still has a high price. The 1968 protesting was an act of extreme courage, admirable in its symbolism. Protesting today is an act of endurance, like the Chinese drop but one that comes with mistreatments from the police and the government. The nowadays activists do hope that their efforts will bring change. But their work seems at times too dangerous and too hopeless and they too consider leaving the country for fear that at the end of their life, all they efforts might sum up to nothing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyCBQhRO3GQ

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