Putin’s Witnesses

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Latvia | 2018 | 102 minutes | Vitaly Mansky

Experience Vladimir Putin’s controversial rise to power in the immediate aftermath of Yeltsin’s sudden resignation through this film’s riveting treasure trove of archival material, filtered through the lens of documentarian Mansky whose camera saw everything.

"Exiled Russian docmaker Vitaly Mansky reassembles his own first-hand footage from the early days of the Putin presidency, to damning, gripping effect."—Variety

Sunday, May 19, 2019

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Lincoln Square

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Thursday, May 23, 2019

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SIFF Cinema Uptown

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On December 31, 1999, intrepid documentarian Vitaly Mansky was proceeding in his career as a television journalist in Moscow when he received the huge assignment of following Vladimir Putin during his 2000 campaign for the Russian presidency. In his latest look at his ex-country, Mansky, now living in Latvia, weaves the personal with the political in a story about the state of the Russian Federation at the turn of the 21st century, creating his film from those early interviews with Putin and family footage from 2000. The film opens with slightly humorous background music that brings on a feeling of dread: A New Year's Eve celebration is going on at the Mansky apartment as an ailing and pale Yeltsin is on the television resigning. Everyone is wondering who will give the traditional New Year's speech—a momentous occasion for the whole country that captures Putin's entrance onto center stage. In another highlight, Putin, as President, meets up with his fawning old teacher. Yet by the end of that year, and by the end of Mansky's smart and fascinating documentary, Putin remains a perturbing enigma.

Maryna Ajaja

Director Biography 
Born in 1963 in the Ukraine, Vitaly Mansky graduated from VGIK — All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography in 1989 and became one of the most acclaimed contemporary Russian documentary filmmakers and producers. He has shot more than 30 films as a director, which screened at festivals worldwide. As a producer, Mansky has produced films by directors like Renata Litvinova, Alexander Rastorguyev, Sergey Miroshnichenko, Dmitry Zhelkovsky, and Sergei Loznitsa. In 1996, he started a project that aims at archiving amateur private video files that were shot in the times of the former USSR from the 1930s through the 1990s. He is the producer of the national award Lavrovaya Vetv ("Laurel Branch") which is awarded for the best Russian documentary films. Vitaly Mansky moved to Latvia in 2015.

Sponsored by KING 5

  • Original Language Title: Svideteli Putina
  • Director: Vitaly Mansky
  • Principal Cast: Featuring: Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin
  • Country: Latvia, Switzerland, Czech Republic
  • Year: 2018
  • Running Time: 102 minutes
  • Producer: Natalia Manskaya, Gabriela Bussmann, Filip Remunda, Vit Klusak
  • Screenplay: Vitaly Mansky
  • Cinematographers: Vitaly Mansky
  • Editors: Gunta Ikere
  • Music: Karlis Auzans
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Awards: Karlovy Vary Film Festival 2018 (Grand Prix for Best Documentary) Stockholm International Film Festival 2018 (Bronze Horse Award for Best International Documentary) FIPADOC Biarritz 2019 (Grand Prix for Best International Documentary) Camden International Film Festival, 2018 (Harrell Award - Special Mention)
  • Filmography: RODNYE (Close Relations) (Doc, 2016) Under the Sun (Doc, 2015) The Book (Doc, 2014) Pipeline (Doc, 2013) Motherland or Death (Doc, 2011) Rassvet/Zakat. Dalai Lama 14 (Doc, 2008) Devstvennost (Doc, 2008) Tender's Heat: Wild Wild Beach (Doc, 2007) Gagarin's Pioneers (Doc, 2005) Anatomy of T.A.T.U. (Doc, 2003)
  • Language: Russian
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • Format: DCP
  • International Sales: Deckert Distribution