By Jonathan Couturier
On Monday 25 March, the Frontline Club screened Winter, Go Away – a documentary assembling the works of 10 young filmmakers, as they captured the day-to-day turbulence, violence and disaffection fuelling the anti-Putin protests in early 2012.
The camera follows the different faces of the opposition: young and old, rich and poor, famous and anonymous as they organise marches, raffles, sit-ins and concerts while dealing with a brutish and chillingly indifferent police, and challenging the bare-faced lies of corrupt electoral commissioners.
To the chants of “Putin-thief” and “Power to millions, not millionaires” the documentary conveyed “with a lot of humour, a grim picture”.
During the Q&A over Skype, Anton Seregin, one of the 10 directors and cameramen, explained the essence of the project:
“You’ve got 10 people with cameras who just follow their characters. . . . We didn’t really have a plan . . . the real intention of the project is to show an emotional map of the [protests]”. He continued: “[It] tells us something about the evolution we want to see in our society.”
One audience member wanted to know whether the portrayal of the protests in the British press as a mostly middle-class movement was accurate – for Seregin, the answer was clear:
“No, I’d say the middle class is rather conservative, and shows no real interest in change. . . . It’s mostly young people, and those suffering from how the system works.”
When the audience pressed Seregin for his own political analysis, he emphasised that his aim was “not to capture the political process . . . but to capture the strange things going on. We didn’t try to convey our own political opinions.” It was a documentary about the humanity, not the politics, of discontent.
However, he did venture that these protests, no matter how harsh the crack-down, were not a one-off. “There are people who want it to happen again, at a bigger scale. . . . I personally hope for the best,” said Seregin, echoing the subdued, but irrepressible optimism of the cold and angry protesters.
Directors: Alexey Zhiryakov, Anna Moiseenko, Anton Seregin, Askold Kurov, Denis Klebleev, Dmitry Kubasov, Elena Khoreva, Madina Mustafina, Nadezhda Leonteva and Sofia Rodkevich
You can watch the trailer below or find regular updates (in Russian) on their facebook page.