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Meet the 2013 Sundance Filmmakers #55: What Maxim Pozdorovkin Has in Common with "Pussy Riot"

By Indiewire Staff | Indiewire January 28, 2013 at 6:02PM

Russian filmmaker Maxim Pozdorovkin and co-director Mike Lerner's "Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer," winner of the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award, charts the controversial arrests of the radicial punk rock group of the same name. Pozdorovkin, who shares a similar political ideology with the feminist band members, along with Lerner attempts to uncover the truths surrounding first 8 months of the story that began in a Russian Catherdral.
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Maxim

Russian filmmaker Maxim Pozdorovkin and co-director Mike Lerner's "Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer," winner of the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award, charts the controversial arrests of the radicial punk rock group of the same name. Pozdorovkin, who shares a similar political ideology with the feminist band members, along with Lerner attempts to uncover the truths surrounding first 8 months of the story that began in a Russian Catherdral.

What It's About: Pussy. Riot. Feminism, revolution, punk rock, performance art, political protest, religious fundamentalism, the limits of free expression, idealism, and some of the greatest speeches you will ever hear.

And So It's Really About: In many ways, "Pussy Riot" is a classic story of a younger generation making itself heard by any means necessary. The film tells the story of Nadia, Masha, and Katia: the three girls behind the balaclavas. Their performance inside Russia's biggest Cathedral and subsequent arrest on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred created a tsunami-sized response in Russia and abroad. This film takes you through 8 months in the lives of these three extraordinary heroines.

Tell us about yourself. What's your background? One of the first things that drew me to the story of Pussy Riot was the sense of a shared past with the characters. We had lived through similar times, listened to the same loud records, read the same poets and philosophers. I have found myself at family dinner tables arguing that Russian society could benefit from a feminist upheaval. The parents of the three members of Pussy Riot recalled having similar arguments with their daughters. As I listened to the girls' testimonies in the courtroom, I discovered more overlap: a commitment to leftist politics, a love of Russian avant-garde art and its legacies, an interest in performance art as a political force.

"Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer."
"Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer."

What will you expect of Sundance audiences? I want audiences to have an absolute blast watching the film. To be taken in by the girls, by their idealism, by the strength of their convictions. I also want them to walk away with a better understanding of the story. While the trial of Pussy Riot has received tremendous news coverage, many aspects of the story have been lost. What was seen outside of Russia as primarily as a political story was understood domestically mostly as a religious one. The truth, as is often the case, is somewhere in the middle and a great deal more fascinating. I hope our film enriches and deepens the audience's understanding of this epic story.

Did any specific films inspire you in the making of this movie? I'm lucky to work with cinephiles. While making Pussy Riot, a few films kept coming up again and again: Dziga Vertov's silent films, Fritz Lang's M, 12 Angry Men, Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc, Chris Marker's Le Joli Mai, Aleksei Guerman's films.

What's next for you? I am currently in post-production, working with Market Road Films, on a documentary feature about the alleged arms dealer Viktor Bout. Widely known as "The Merchant of Death" and the "Lord of War," Bout is currently serving a 25-year sentence in Marion, IL and is the subject of an ongoing political dispute between Russia and the US. Other future projects include a transmedia documentary project about the global impact of the small arms trade, as well as a book on the history of surveillance technology.

Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2013 festival.

Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on January 17 for the latest profiles.

This article is related to: Sundance Film Festival, Meet the 2013 Sundance Filmmakers, Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer







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