Russia/Norway/Georgia, 2010, 116 minutes
Wed, Apr 28 / 3:15 / Kabuki / RUSS28K
Thu, Apr 29 / 12:30 / Kabuki / RUSS29K
Sat, May 01 / 6:15 / Kabuki / RUSS01K
The 2008 war between Russia and Georgia—and its previous incarnation in 1993—forms the crux of this extraordinary documentary exchange, filmed not after the fact or from the comfort of an unaffected place, but directly from the separate front lines of conflict among soldiers, refugees and victims. As war broke out once again in August 2008, filmmakers Olga Konskaya and Andrei Nekrasov (whose prior documentary, Rebellion: The Litvinenko Case, was banned in Russia) went immediately to the conflict. She filmed from the Northern side, he from the Southern lines, with both sending images to one another along the way (Nekrasov was thus able to show fleeing refugees in the South, images of their bombed villages in the North). Moving far beyond war reportage and a mere gathering of footage, however, the two compare their images with that from the official media, and discover a strain of cover-ups, misrepresentations and outright lies. Expanding into a full history of post–Cold War conflicts through the clashes between Russia, Georgia and the Georgian Republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Russian Lessons demonstrates with penetrating clarity how the “truths” of history—and contemporary events—are manipulated by those in power, and how events in one corner of the world have repercussions across the globe. A fascinating, highly personal examination of war, holocaust and memory, the film is also a testament to activist filmmaking—those individuals standing against superpowers with only a digital camera and strength of will.
In Russian and Georgian with English subtitles. Presented with support from the Royal Norwegian Consulate General, San Francisco. GGA Documentary Feature Contender.