PUTIN'S WITNESSES (SVIDETELI PUTINA)
With PUTIN’S WITNESSES, documentarian Vitaly Mansky — former head of documentaries for Russian national television — returns to footage he filmed when commissioned, and provided with unnervingly intimate access, on a propaganda piece promoting Vladmir Putin’s first presidential election. The original documentary had purported to capture an energized pro-democracy movement leading up to the election, but this behind-the-scenes look is a sobering and timely glimpse into the methodical construction of the illusion of democracy. Then seemingly benign — staged scenes and extensive meetings — mark, in retrospect, defining moments leading to the present-day crisis of Russian media control. In this captivating and resolute revisiting, Mansky both chronicles the alarming ease of the dictator’s rise to power and examines his own complicity in his near two-decade rule. Winner of the Karlovy Vary Grand Prix Documentary Award. – Malin Kan
Vitaly Mansky graduated from VGIK - All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography in 1989 and became one of Russia’s most acclaimed documentary filmmakers and producers. He has shot more than 30 films as a director, which have screened at festivals worldwide. Mansky moved to Latvia in 2015.