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The White Coat Meduza premieres first ever documentary on the life of Soviet dissident Valeriya Novodvorskaya
“The White Coat” is the first documentary to examine the life of Soviet dissident and activist Valeriya Novodvorskaya. With the permission of Berlin film studio Narra and the independent journalist cooperative Bereg, Meduza has made the full film available on YouTube.
“The White Coat” re-examines the life and legacy of Valeriya Novodvorskaya. While working on the film, director Igor Sadreev read Novodvorskaya’s interviews, essays, memoirs and letters, and spoke with her friends and associates. He also gained access to Novodvorskaya’s criminal files.
Novodvorskaya lived an incredible life. In 1969, at just 19 years old, she independently planned and staged her first protest against the Soviet authorities at the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow. Her radical resistance to the Soviet system made her a frequent political prisoner. Not only did she serve time in prison, but she was also sent to a punitive psychiatric hospital.
In the late 1980s, while continuing to garner attention for her activism, Novodvorskaya entered politics. She founded the Soviet Union’s first independent and democratic political party, but despite the promises of Perestroika, the Soviet authorities responded brutally.
By the start of the 1990s, Novodvorskaya was one of Russia’s foremost fighters for justice. Although she was widely popular, she gradually became a subject of ridicule. Her political views grew increasingly at odds with Russian politics, and her distinct appearance turned Novodvorskaya into a subject of memes and parodies.
“The White Coat” not only explores Novodvorskaya’s career, but also her personal life: her difficult relationship with her family, her love life, and her passions outside of activism. This is a film about bravery, sacrifice, and loneliness, as well as Novodvorskaya’s remarkable “prophecies” — predicting Russia’s turn toward dictatorship, the return of the Soviet system, and war.
Subtitles translated by Pippa Crawford
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