There are no heroes in Alexander Rastorguev’s engaging 90-minutes documentary. The documentary traces the recent history of the failures of Russia’s opposition to Vladimir Putin’s corrupt state that creates little more than headlines in the West and cannon fodder for police beatings and arrests at home.
Rastorguev has a rare talent for critical, political documentary. He is both an opposition activist (who has been arrested and roughed up by the police in the course of his work) and a cool, calculated observer. In Electing Russia he combines brilliant photography in the midst of often violent events with a clear eye for beautifully framed, telling shots.
Electing Russia is a carefully crafted documentary, produced by long-time collaborators: Russia’s Yevgeny Gindilis and Germany’s Simone Baumann, who are mindful that European viewers need a degree of explanation and guidance to understand just what is going on in Russia.
The opening shots alone will convince even viewers with only a passing interest in Russian domestic politics to keep watching.
«We are the power»
The footage opens with jolly images of historic military re-enactors gathered in the centre of Moscow on June 12, 2017 to celebrate Russia’s National Day.
Pretty girls and handsome young men in khaki uniforms from WWII and Red Army soldiers dance close to the Red Square in Moscow, while kids clamber over vintage military vehicles and classic weapons.
These are the sort of Kremlin-approved images that the Putin regime loves: promoting the last unifying national myth of Russia’s greatness and victory over fascism during what the Russians still call the «Great Patriotic War».
A little further up Tverskaya Street (known in Soviet times as Gorky Street) helmeted riot police wearing body armour are struggling to contain a crown of opposition demonstrators intent on pissing on Putin’s parade.
«We are the power here! We are the power here!» kids of 15, 16 or 17 chant punching the air with their fists. Rastorguev is in the thick of it, pointing his camera in the faces of the equally young OMON riot …
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