The Trial: The State of Russia vs Oleg Sentsov
"A testament to the true nature of the Vladimir Putin regime [that] leaves you with a shuddering chill. A documentary like this one is necessary. It speaks the truth about the Russian regime — the truth that’s buried by Putin, and now buried by our own president, who only dreams that he could do the same thing to his enemies". - Variety
"Saying that the [titular] Trial is bare-boned or that its charges of terrorism are Kafkaesque is like saying that Russian winters are cold. The details in this intrigue are fascinating, as behind the case is Russia’s illegal seizure of Crimea." - Screen Daily
- Berlin International Film Festival
- Human Rights Watch Festival
- Sheffield DocFest
- Vancouver IFF
This courageous, urgent documentary provides a rare investigative chronicle of Vladimir Putin's ruthless human censorship machine, as evident in the case of Oleg Sentsov -- the Ukrainian filmmaker, AutoMaidan activist, and Crimea native sentenced to 20 years imprisonment after an infamous show trial.
Following his ensnarement by a mismanaged secret police investigation, Oleg Sentsov was accused of leading an anti-Russian terrorist movement and planning attacks on bridges, power lines, and a monument of Lenin. Refusing to succumb to torture, Sentov maintains a defiant stance toward a ruthless apparatus bent on crushing political opposition and free speech.
He defends himself while on trial in Rostov-on-Don during August 2015, and is convicted and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment in Siberia for terrorism. He responds to the court’s predictable verdict with an emphatic denial of his crimes, and an accusation of his accusers.
The Trial: The State of Russia vs Oleg Sentsov investigates the truth behind this political show trial and examines whether witnesses for the prosecution were placed under duress. The film also documents the unprecedented wave of solidarity shown to Sentsov by the international film community, led by key figures and colleagues such as Agnieszka Holland, Ken Loach, Aleksandr Sokurov, Béla Tarr, Pedro Almodóvar, as well as the European Film Academy, which began its 30th anniversary with a screening of the film and a campaign for Oleg Sentsov’s release.
Update: On September 7, 2019, Sentsov was one of 35 Ukrainians released by Russia to Ukraine in a prisoner exchange.
Directed by Askold Kurov---
"Last year Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov declared a hunger strike, demanding Russian authorities to free all Ukrainian "political prisoners." He has lost 30 kg since the beginning of his hunger strike (which lasted 145 days). His action has sparked protest in his support across the globe. The voices of his supporters are mostly directed at Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, to remind him that Oleg Sentsov should never have spent a single day in prison and his fight for justice should not be in vain."
- Amnesty International
“145 days of battle, 20kg less in weight, body destroyed, and the aim is not achieved. I’m grateful to everyone who supported me, and I ask forgiveness from those I’ve let down.”
- Oleg Sentsov
For further reading:
We Stand With Oleg Sentsov - Amnesty International Campaign
A Siberian Prisoner Spoils Putin’s Extravaganza - A New York Times Editorial Op-ed
Oleg Sentsov and the Kremlin’s Thin Skin - A New York Times Op-ed by Masha Gessen
Russia's Indifference to Two Political Prisoners Sends a Strong and Familiar Message - Masha Gessen for The New Yorker
Only Western Pressure Can Save Oleg Sentsov - Washington Post
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