The Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival: From Vladimir Putin to Margaux Hemingway

March 27, 2015 2:27 PM

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I love the Thessaloniki documentary film festival: a chance to travel far, from a gorilla reserve in the Congo (the award-winning film Virunga) to a small town in Ukraine, where FEMEN activists bare their breasts to protest Vladimir Putin. It is also an opportunity to gain more intimate knowledge about the figures who dominate our planet. One excellent documentary this year was on Putin, in fact (Jean-Michel Carre's Putin is Back). This doc shows, through interviews with Putin's close advisers and press footage, how Putin gained his power step by step by monopolizing oil and gas, endorsing corruption, rigging elections and jailing journalists, all with former President (now Prime Minister) Medvedev's slavish support. Medvedev changed the constitution to allow Putin to be re-elected, according to the film. The film also exposes the dramatic rise of collusion between Church and State during Putin's regime,as well as Putin's blatant anti-homosexual discourse: "The West is forcing its homosexuals on us!" the prime minister pontificates.

Immediately after this view of this stiff hetero-determined elegant former KGB official, I went to see Hanna Polack's Something Better to Come, about homeless children who live in a garbage dump ten miles from the Kremlin. The children smoke cigarettes in a tent listening to a radio emission about P...

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