Prolific doc maker Alex Gibney returns this year with “Citizen K,” a portrait of Putin’s Russia that Greenwich Entertainment will release in Los Angeles on November 22. Financed by Amazon, the film will later hit streaming via Prime Video. Greenwich last year handled the theatrical distribution of National Geographic’s “Free Solo,” which went on to win the Best Documentary Feature Academy Award, and grossed nearly $18 million at the U.S. box office — impressive numbers for a doc.
“Citizen K” takes a look at post-Soviet Russia through the eyes of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a onetime oligarch turned political dissident, and unlikely martyr for the anti-Trump movement. Amid the shakeout of the U.S.S.R.’s dissolution, Khodorkovsky made bank working in finance and in oil production, becoming the richest man in Russia. However, when he accused Putin’s regime of corruption, he was arrested, followed by seizure of his assets and humiliation throughout a series of show trials. He was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison. Today, Khodorkovsky lives as an exile in London, where he continues to speak out against Putin’s reign.
“It’s a vitally important moment in the U.S. — as another presidential election looms over the horizon — for Americans — and people around the world — to understand how power works in Russia,” Gibney said in a statement. The film was produced by his company Jigsaw, as well as Passion Pictures and Storyteller Productions. (Following its Venice debut, “Citizen K” currently sits at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.)
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Gibney won the Best Documentary Oscar in 2008 for his probe of America’s torture system post-9/11, “Taxi to the Dark Side.” As a director, he has nearly 50 credits to his name, including this year’s “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley,” a portrait of disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes that bowed on HBO. Gibney has steadily been making films for television, with “Citizen K” marking his biggest theatrical push since 2015, when he debuted “Janis: Little Girl Blue” and “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine.”
The late-November release is primed for Oscar season, but the documentary race hasn’t fully taken shape yet. DOC NYC recently announced its shortlist of 15, which often predicts the Academy’s own shortlist. (Read Anne Thompson’s latest IndieWire Best Documentary Oscar predictions for more.)