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THE TRIAL: THE STATE OF RUSSIA VS OLEG SENTSOV

DirectorAskold Kurov
CastOleg Sentsov, Vladimir Putin, Victor Yanukovich, Agnieszka Holland, Wim Wenders, Dmitry Dinze, Natalya Kaplan, Gennady Afanasyev, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Alina Sentsova, Vlad Sentsov
IdeaAskold Kurov, Andrii Lytvynenko
CameraAskold Kurov
EditorMichal Leszczylowski, Evgeny Zaozernykh
ProducerMaria Gavrilova, Max Tuula – Marx Film (EE), Dariusz Jablonski, Izabela Wojcik, Violetta Kaminska – Message Film (PL); Alena Mullerova – Czech Television
Year2017
Length75 min
CountryEstonia/Poland/Czech Republic
SubtitlesEnglish
SectionDOCUMENTARIES OPEN DEBATES
ScreeningSat 10 November | 15:00 hours | Filmhuis Den Haag
Sun 11 November | 14:15 hours | Filmhuis Den Haag

A documentary about Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov who was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for terrorism and arms trafficking after a trial denounced as “Stalinist”.

Synopsis

Oleg Sentsov, an Ukrainian filmmaker, is on trial in a courtroom in Rostov-on-Don. He is charged with leading an anti-Russian terrorist movement and planning terrorist attacks on Russian infrastructure and monuments, because he was against the annexation of Crimea by the Russian state. He is denying the crimes and defends himself with courage and determination. However, he is sentenced to 20 years imprisonment and started an open-ended hunger strike on 14 May 2018. The film explores the truth behind the highly politicised trial and reveals many flaws in the way the State obtained evidence against Sentsov. The notorious case inspired protests around the world and the director Askold Kurov was so shocked by the trial that he decided to show solidarity to his filmmaking colleague: “I came to the first hearing as Oleg’s acquaintance – to support him, then I understood that the only thing I could do in this situation was to make a film about it”.

Festivals & Awards (selection)

Berlin International Film Festival, 2017 – Berlinale Special | CPH:DOX, Copenhagen 2017 | One World, International Human Rights Documentary FF, Prague 2017 | Millennium Docs Against Gravity Documentary FF, Poland 2017 – Focus Magazine Award for the Greatest Personality of the Festival, Warsaw Documentary Award, Amnesty International Award | Docudays UA, Kyiv 2017 | European FF, Lecce 2017 | goEast, Wiesbaden 2017 | Sheffield DocFest, Great Britain 2017 | Vancouver IFF 2017 | Film Fest Gent, 2017 | Black Nights FF, Tallinn 2017

Director’s statement

Sometimes it’s difficult to remain just an observer. The idea of the film grew out of my own weakness, my inability to change the dark future that was awaiting Oleg Sentsov—a man who just wanted to live in a free country and make movies. Knowing Oleg personally, I was worried about him, and it was impossible for me to believe that he could be guilty of any of these preposterous charges and put up with what’s happening to him. We also have a lot in common: we were born in the same country almost at the same time, we had a Soviet childhood, and we became filmmakers almost at the same period. 25 years ago the Soviet Union collapsed; Oleg stayed in the Ukrainian Crimea and I remained in Russia which a year ago came to Crimea itself together with a repressive system that brings back censorship, political persecutions, arbitrariness and nostalgia for the Soviet past. The political situation in Russia makes it harder and harder to stay away from politics, and nothing can guarantee that anyone, regardless of their profession, won’t become a victim of this system. This film is also a chance to show and seek support for Oleg not only from us, but from many people around the world.