By Joe Bendel. Ten 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, which screens this Saturday in Astoria, Queens, as part the Museum of the Moving Image’s second annual First Look film series.
For 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.
Two 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.
Obviously 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 that there were similar instances of election shenanigans and intimidation reported here in the U.S. in 2012. Indeed, the suspicious busloads of “voters” in Winter demonstrate why stricter voter ID laws might actually serve the interests of democracy.
Watching Winter, 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.
LFM GRADE: A
Posted on January 10th, 2012 at 11:58am.
By Joe Bendel. Everyone says marriage requires hard work, but nobody ever wants to show it on film. Yet there is certainly plenty of dramatic fodder there. A young married couple will prove the point when they navigate some tricky issues in Jang Kun-jae’s Sleepless Night, which screens this Sunday as a selection the Museum of the Moving Image’s second annual First Look film series.
They have been married two years without getting pregnant. This may have been either a conscious or subconscious decision. Money is a concern. He works in a warehouse and she is yoga instructor. Perhaps more significantly, he is still not sure he is ready to be a parent. Both clearly understand this is an important difference of opinion, leading to anxiety over the state of their union. They will have to do that everyday couple’s work to stay together, especially with more and more of their married friends divorcing or having children.
Like many films programmed at this year’s First Look, Sleepless is a quiet, moody film. However, it is also wholly engrossing for viewers willing to invest in it. This film is far too honest for anyone whose idea of movie romance is Gerard Butler planting a sloppy kiss on an impeccably blow-dried Jennifer Aniston. By the same token, it is also considerably more erotic.
Kim Soo-hyun and Kim Joo-ryeong make an attractively down-to-earth couple. Together they share a genuine, lived-in chemistry that rings true in every scene. While Jang’s two dream sequences are not well delineated on-screen, his patience and sensitivity allow some telling moments to develop organically.
Deceptively simple, the sixty-five minute Sleepless Night is surprisingly deep and rewarding. Recommended for those who want to see a movie relationship presented in an intelligent and very real manner, it screens with the longish short As the Flames Rose this Sunday (1/13), the final day of First Look 2013, at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens.
LFM GRADE: A-
Posted on January 10th, 2012 at 11:57am.