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The Trial: The State of Russia vs Oleg Sentsov

Protsess: Venemaa riik Oleg Sentsovivastu

Impact | VIFF Impact

This terse, angry film relates the story of how a free spirit came to be locked away. Oleg Sentsov is professional gamer turned filmmaker who, following the annexation of Crimea, finds himself up against the Russian authorities. Dubiously charged with terrorism, he proclaims his innocence from a caged cell in court; those bars are just one of the signs of state oppression we see. The trial footage is a highlight of the film: even caged up, Sentsov is a compelling presence. His face registers a mixture of cynical bemusement and wide-eyed engagement, and his caustic words to the court are a delight.

Elsewhere we meet his family, learn the background to his plight, and hear statements of support from fellow filmmakers such as Agnieszka Holland and Krzysztof Zanussi. What emerges is a portrait of political defiance and the outrages that serve to validate it. The film wouldn’t be complete without the blank-faced bully of Eastern Europe, Vladimir Putin. Needless to say, he’s not a willing interviewee; we see him on TV addressing Sentsov’s plight, and his presence looms large over this account of injustice—indeed, it’s there in the accounts of torture, the surveillance choppers over a civil protest and every other bit of evidence in this indictment of Russian authoritarianism.

North American premiere
Director Askold Kurov
Country of Origin: Estonia/Poland/Czech Republic
Year: 2017
Running Time: 70 mins
Format: DCP
Language:In Russian with English subtitles
Related Links: Trailer | Screen review
Featuring: Oleg Sentsov, Vladimir Putin
Executive Producer: Olga Zhurzhenko, Jiří Vlach, Max Tuula, Maria Gavrilova
Producer: Maria Gavrilova, Max Tuula, Dariusz Jabłoński, Izabela Wójcik, Violetta Kamińska
Cinematographer: Askold Kurov
Editor: Michał Leszczyłowski, Evgeny Zaozernykh
Music: Sorin Apostol
Production Company: Marx Film / Message Film
Print Source: Rise and Shine World Sales UG

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