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“Navalny”, the documentary that unmasks Vladimir Putin: what happens if he claims victory at the 2023 Oscars?

“Navalny”, the documentary that unmasks Vladimir Putin: what happens if he claims victory at the 2023 Oscars?

“Navalny”, the documentary that unmasks Vladimir Putin: what happens if he claims victory at the 2023 Oscars?

In 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of neighboring Ukraine in an attack the world condemned. The world economy was shaken and the rest of the nations took a position for or against Russia in an armed conflict that it has caused, according to estimates of the United States armed forces, 40,000 dead to date. The Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences in the 2023 edition of its famous Oscars has put interest in the international role of the Russian president with the nomination of “Navalny”, a documentary that uncovers the true nature of Putin, who is shown as the direct attacker of the Russian opponent, Alexei Navalny. The production with touches of humor is one of the favorites to obtain the golden statuette for Best Documentary Film.

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Alexei Navalny is a 41-year-old man, Julia’s husband, Daria’s father, a lawyer by profession, and the only Russian opposition leader capable of gaining enough international fame to feel safe exposing a Russian intelligence operation and thus putting Putin in trouble. . All this, using a laptop, a cell phone and with the help of the team from his own news outlet (Bellingcat). But, through the lens of Canadian director Daniel Roher, this character is also a contrast between the giggly, fussy, video game-loving guy with more social media savvy than his own centennial daughter, versus the only human being he ever faced. the most feared villain in the world and lived to tell the tale.

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Roher’s thriller, a screenplay in association with CNN Films and HBO Max, focuses on the Russian government’s poisoning mission against Navalny and the events that followed. File footage from 2020 shows a team of men dressed in black enter the young politician’s offices in true Russian mafia style, seize several of his documents and spray his face with a chemical.

Alexéi Navalny during a scene from the HBO Max and CNN Films documentary.

“I thought I would end up being a monster until the end of my days,” Navalny jokes with the documentary’s director during the main interview. The man would not sit idly by: the next step would be to discover the truth behind the attack. Thus, the film continues with the retention of the politician in a clinic, the trip to the country of refuge (Germany) and the recapitulation of the facts and subjects on a giant map at the level of “CSI: Miami”.

From this newspaper, the Mundo team followed the case of poisoning in 2020. The winner of the Inter-American Press Association (SIP) award and journalist for the Mundo section of this newspaper for nine years, Milagros Asto, considers that that moment of the attack turned to the opposition leader in “a symbol of the resistance against the president of Russia” in front of the foreign press. This is also shown in the documentary, when media from different parts of the world report the investigations of Navalny’s team.

“This documentary is more relevant now. At that time, Navalny was arrested, but later he went to prison and today the sentences against him have increased. For this reason, the voices opposed to Putin within Russia have found in him a figure in which to take refuge. (…) Today Putin is under international scrutiny for his role in the war in Ukraine. As a result of this problem and since before the invasion of that country, the dissident voices and the discontent of the people due to the limits of freedom of expression already resonated a lot in Russia”, comments Asto.

Alexei Navalny is a threat to Putin’s popularity. And that’s why he wants to kill him? It is the question that surrounds the argument of Roher, who from time to time throws sparks of ridiculousness and sarcasm around the villain, for example, the mistake of using a Russian poison called novichok in the attack against Navalny. It was the clearest clue of guilt. To poison someone, wouldn’t it be better not to leave clues as to who the author is? In addition, to the funny part, it is added that the president of Russia puts so much effort into not tarnishing his image in real life. “Navalny appears as a strange dissident, but capable of channeling people’s discontent. (…) And the Kremlin is known for its very large propaganda in favor of the Russian government, which always attacks everything that has to do with the West”, comments Asto. Punctuation of the joke: the documentary is western.

Alexei Navalny in Russia.

Alexei Navalny in Russia.

From another point of view, the internationalist Francisco Belaúnde Motossián believes that a golden Oscar statuette can capture a greater audience and interest in the case of Navalny, who today remains in prison under a harsh disciplinary regime in Russia. “The possible victory of the documentary would be one more element in the contention between the United States and Russia. It does not make a change in that relationship, except that it recalls the figure of Navalny in the midst of the conflict of the war in Ukraine”, he affirms.


For Belaúnde Motossián, the recount of videos where Vladimir Putin addresses the press at various conferences was a funny statement. “Indeed, I had read it before, but in the documentary it became clear to me. He always refers to ‘that person you mentioned’ when journalists ask about Navalny. It is seen that, for Putin, he is a person who is challenging him. Even mentioning his name is too much, ”he comments to Skip Intro of El Comercio.

Although there are many spaces in the documentary where Navalny’s personality invades the frame with that spark of comedy, this production is also very sad. In support of the tragic soundtrack by music producers Marius de Vries (tracks from “CODA”) and Matt Robertson (tracks from “La La Land”), in “Navalny”, the presence of Yulia Navalnaya, wife of the Russian opponent, fighting to entering the Russian health center where they had her husband opens the door of empathy, as if anyone could be a victim of Putin and have a relative receive death threats.

But even more welcoming is the image of Daria Navalnaya, his daughter, who today is a leading social media blogger who promotes the documentary and gives interviews with international media to raise her voice for her father’s release. Between laughter and hugs between the young woman and the politician, there are spaces for reflection: is being the daughter of a hero condemned to never be by her side? “Since I was 13 years old, I think about what I would do if my father were murdered,” she says during an interview for the documentary. And this is even more moving, knowing that the Russian opposition leader hides his fear of him throughout the hour and a half of the film, as if he were willing to die or sure of the international relevance of being untouchable.

Yulia and Navalny before separating in Russia.  A scene from the documentary

Yulia and Navalny before separating in Russia. A scene from the documentary “Navalny”.


Being nominated for the Oscars is synonymous with popularity. Winning is a coronation. According to the predictions, to reach this point, everything indicates that whoever has the most prizes will be closer to the goal. Therefore, “Navalny” can be a strong competitor, but he has other titans at his side.

Five long documentaries compete. The poetic story “All That Breathes” (India) is about two brothers who run a wild bird clinic in New Delhi. It is interesting how the director Shaunak Sen shows the savagery of the species, who also suffer the storm of climate change. But the strongest competitor, the specialized critic agrees, is “The Dark Horse: All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” (United States), where director Laura Poitras tells the life of activism of photographer Nan Goldin, who is against a family owns a pharmaceutical company. It is hailed as a perfect balance between creativity and politics, and it also beats “Navalny” by more than 16 film awards (Audience Award for Best USA Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival).

documentary scene

Scene from the documentary “Navalny”.

On the other hand, National Geographic’s “The One For Romantics: Fire of Love” (United States) bids for the gold prize with its nature of archival shots from 1970 and 1980 to tell the story of volcanologists Katia and Maurice Kraff. It is not one of the favourites. However, Simon Lereng’s “The Underdog (That Will Full-On Break Your Heart): A House Made of Splinters” (Denmark) may be a midrange contender for “Navalny” as the tragic story of three children. housed in an orphanage in Ukraine, but within a war-ravaged area.

On March 12 we will know who will be the winner.


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A publication shared by Saltar Intro de El Comercio (@saltarintrope)

Source: Elcomercio

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