Saturday, October 15, 2011

On the whole it was depressing

I went to see the film about Anna Politkovskaya, which, I find, has won the Best Documentary award at the World Film Festival in Montreal. I did not think it was that good as a film but the experience of watching Politkovskaya and her family and friends as well as listening to them all discussing her life and work was fascinating. So, on the whole, I am glad the film won that prize. Perhaps, it means that the distribution will be wider than is usual for documentaries. In December it is due to be shown in Russia.

Of course, Politkovskaya was a courageous, inspiring and highly irritating person. It is clear that many people who worked with her found her difficult and several journalists accused her of being unprofessional in that she yielded too much to emotion. On the other hand, one has to say that she went to all those places, talked to all those people and checked the stories out.

The story is depressing in general and in detail. Her death by violence is appalling and the fact that five years on the investigation is still a mess with no sign of it ever being adequately cleared up (though the culprits are known) is a blot on Russian reality.

A reminder of such matters as the theatre siege in Moscow and the Beslan school siege and their ghastly endings with no investigation of what went wrong each time had many people surreptitiously blowing their noses into their handkerchiefs; the whole dreadful saga of the two Chechen wars and of the atrocities on both sides visited on the civilian population between can never be forgotten. But, worst of all, this was a tale of lost hope for the whole country. We heard a good deal of the bright expectations of the early nineties (why the film had a longish interview with Gorbachev still fighting his battle with Yeltsin is a mystery) and their dissipation. With Vladimir Putin about to become President for another 12 years the sight of Yeltsin winning that battle against the Putschists of 1993 is just too hard to bear.

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