CPH:DOX 2017 /The Trial


… with the subtitle ”The State of Russia vs Oleg Sentsov”, a film that premiered at the Berlinale, now to be shown at CPH:DOX and at DocuDays in Kiev on the 25th of March with the director and guests present.

I mention the latter as Oleg Sentsov is Ukrainian and for those, who do not know the story, here is the laconic film description from the festival in Ukraine:

Oleg Sentsov is a Ukrainian filmmaker, Euromaidan activist and native of Crimea. After the Russian annexation of Crimea, he became an active opponent of the occupation. In May 2014 he was arrested by the Russian security

service, charged with planned terrorist attacks and transported to Moscow. After over a year in custody, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison, despite the fact that the testimonies were given under duress and evidence was insufficient. Sentsov never pled guilty…

The film intends to convey the case in a political context, what  happened since Sentsov was put behind bars (look at the photo, Sentsov in the court room, where filming is allowed, behind bars, like an animal in the zoo, before the verdict has been given). It does so through interviews with key involved persons and through following the courageous cousin of Sentsov, who goes to Crimea, to Moscow, to Kiev and to deliver food (snack) packages to him in the prison. The film shows clips from his feature film ”Gaamer” (2011), it has archive from Russian official television, interviews as well, with witnesses, who have pointed at him as the man behind terrorism. The camera is there, when his mother and his two children talk to their father on the phone, it is emotional – there are shootings from Moscow where demonstrations deal with the killing of Boris Nemtsov. And a clip where master director Sokurov tries to convince Putin to show mercy and release Sentsov.

Sentsov behind bars… he seems to be a strong person, who is very well formulated when he quotes from Bulgakov’s ”Master and Margarita”: Cowardice is the principle and greatest sin on earth.” And he speaks about the Russian television propaganda. He was sentenced to sit until 2034!

Filmmakers from many countries have supported the campaign for setting Sentsov free. Wim Wenders, Dariusz Jablonski, Zanussi etc. Their appeals are in the film, the release of the filmmaker is now a goal for activism, including the solidarity demonstrations at festivals.

Askold Kurov has with this film made his fine contribution to the campaign, you feel the commitment, when watching a film that does not have its own style but where you sense how important it was for the director to make it.

Thanks to the director and to his Estonian producer Max Tuula.

Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic, 2017. 75 mins.

In Copenhagen the film will be screened Saturday March 18, 7.30pm at Nordisk Film Palads.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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