Definition December 2022 - Web


memories from production: “Bellingcat found details of the assassins that attempted to kill Alexei Navalny. I suppose it’s quite a famous moment now,” he muses, “but he sat down and called them. Because of time differences with Moscow, we began the scene at 4am. We didn’t think anything would come from it. “The cameras are rolling, Alexei calls the first man and says, ‘Hello, this is Alexei Navalny, why did you decide to kill me?’ And the assassin hangs up. The same process happens a second time. On the third attempt, Alexei decides to change his approach. He acts like he’s a Russian general and says, ‘Tell me everything. What went wrong? Why is nobody dead? I want information.’ And the man buys it. He spills the whole story in a 45-minute phone call, confessing all the details of how they tried to poison him. I don’t understand a word of Russian, but when you see jaws dropping to the ground, you can sense that something unbelievable is going on. I was simply hoping my camera wouldn’t run out of battery.” The sequence raised an interesting production conundrum. What had “It would be gold for our film, but such a political bombshell that we knew some had to be released, journalistically”

SETTING THE SCENE Navalny with Niki Waltl, at the location used for the bar interview. The closest thing to a set piece in the film, Waltl and director Roher were meticulous in the scouting and lighting for this scene in particular

undoubtedly become the crux of the documentary was also important news. It didn’t take Roher and his on-camera companions long to reach a conclusion. “There were discussions between the journalists, thinkers and filmmakers about what to do with this footage. It was clear that this would be gold for our film, but on the other hand, it was such a political bombshell that some had to be released, journalistically, to TV stations. It should be news for people to see immediately. Quickly, everyone understood that, yes, part of this phone call had to go out. “I remember a couple of days later, I turned on the news and saw footage I’d

filmed in the very room I was in. It was the right decision,” Waltl concludes. Incredibly, Navalny doesn’t end there – nor does the staggering real-life journey of the film’s protagonist, post-credits. At the time of writing, Russian courts have just rejected an appeal on his sentence. As he serves close to a decade in a high- security penal colony, Alexei Navalny continues to share his bold ideology in print. Were it written for the screen, the hero would walk away unscathed. One can only hope this true tale reaches an equally just end. Navalny is available to rent on multiple streaming platforms

EARTH-SHATTERING EVENTS This true story feels like a fantastical spy thriller – thanks to both an unbelievable sequence of events, plus cinematic techniques employed on the fly

55. DECEMBER 2022

Powered by