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‘My Friend, Boris Nemtsov’ A documentary film about the murdered politician comes to Russia's Artdocfest

Source: Meduza
Screencap: “My Friend, Boris Nemtsov”

Later this month, the documentary film festival "Artdocfest" comes to Moscow and St. Petersburg. Vitaly Mansky, the festival's president, recently spoke to Meduza about one of this year's films in competition, "My Friend, Boris Nemtsov" (Russia and Estonia, 2015), directed by Zosya Rodkevich. This is what he had to say.

It is impossible to stage a documentary film festival in 2015 and not devote attention to the symbol—indeed the defining moment—of the whole year: the tragic murder of Boris Nemtsov. What I mean is that it would be immoral, low, despicable, dishonest, and even inhuman to talk about Russian documentary filmmaking and ignore Nemtsov. And that's why we are absolutely showcasing a special Nemtsov project. We asked the makers of a still-uncompleted documentary film to come to the festival and show us their unfinished picture as a work-in-progress. We feel obliged to do this, just as we thought it necessary to show the film "Putin's Games" on the eve of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The entire country was preparing for the Olympics and the entire country in one way or another helped pay for the Games and is still paying for them to this day.

Back then, people in certain government offices tried very hard to convince us that we'd come to regret showing that film. Understandably, we did pay a large price in due time, but we don't regret a single second. On the contrary, it brings us much pride. Boris attended that screening. Though he'd played a part in putting the film together, Boris sat in the audience watching it like an ordinary viewer, and afterwards participated delicately, understandingly, and convincingly in the public discussion that followed. He came to screenings a couple of other times, and we always thought of him as a member of our audience. That's why this film about Nemtsov is also our tribute to the memory of a young, talented, and brave man. We need more brave people like him. Despite his life's tragic ending, it was his fate to be a winner. Of this we're certain.

(Warning: the trailer below contains obscene language.)

My Friend, Boris Nemtsov" (Russia and Estonia, 2015), directed by Zosya Rodkevich / Artdocfest 2015

The film "My Friend, Boris Nemtsov" was created by one of the authors of the Realnost project. This is clear from just a cursory look at the opening credits, where you'll see the names of Rastorguyev and Kostomarov. Realnost is the project that transformed into Lenta.doc. The people behind this undertaking were the ones who filmed our real life during the Bolotnaya protests in 2011-2012. The director is a young woman who, at the time, was sent on assignment to film Nemtsov for some story. I don't know how it happened exactly, but they came to be close friends, and her camera would later accompany Boris for quite a long time. (And I'm not talking about how a pool of journalists assembles for Kremlin officials, but about everyday life.) We see Boris as he was: a man who never hid himself from us. But he was taken from us, just as they take from us anyone who represents a different point of view about what goes on in our world.

Of course, that we're now watching a film about this young, strong, and energetic person and the fact that his whole life now lies in the past is a terrible tragedy. It's also the key to understanding the madness in which we find ourselves. That madness, which Nemtsov himself warned about, sooner or later becomes something. Nemtsov always said evolution, not revolution, is what Russia needs. But life, apparently, pushes future developments in a different direction.

We're also in talks with the makers of another film about Nemtsov. This one was made together with German filmmakers. It will premiere on German television on the anniversary of Nemtsov's death. We're hoping to show a work-in-progress version of the film, as well, or at least share some clips from the picture.

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