A n alleged assassination attempt of global importance, a twisting investigation and an unfathomably fearless hero. Were it found within a novel, it would be compelling enough – but the story of Navalny was not concocted to satiate eager readers. More chillingly, it’s all perfectly real. Before the documentary hit screens earlier this year, its story had already shaken the world. In fact, unbeknown to viewers at the time, the now-infamous news segment depicting the moment Alexei Navalny spoke directly with his would-be killer was part of a larger human drama. The film’s subject matter is, perhaps, of once-in-a-generation magnitude. When it came to the all- important matter of presenting events in a compelling visual language, the responsibility fell to Niki Waltl.
“After he woke up from his coma, Navalny reached out to Bellingcat, the platform of investigative journalists, to see if they would tell the story. Christo Grozev took an interest,” Waltl begins. “He was already working on another documentary with Daniel Roher, our director. When the film team realised Grozev and Navalny had been in touch, they thought, who’s making that film? Everyone involved knew it would be a very interesting time to have cameras around, so it just clicked. “I was a bit intimidated, because you don’t know what to expect, but also curious,” the filmmaker recalls. “Even though it was the height of the first Covid-19 wave back then, this poisoning case really came through on the news. Everyone was touched by that story, myself included. When you’re “Navalny and his team – their energy is infectious. All you can do is move forward and feel lucky to be a part of it”
RAISING THE BAR Niki Waltl shot this political documentary as though it were a thriller
51. DECEMBER 2022
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