East European cinema that, though it foregoes nuance, retains an authentic voice. Mass protests broke out in Belarus after the presidential elections in August 2020 amid arrests of opposition candidates and reports of numerous electoral manipulations. Over 30,000 people were arrested, 450 cases of torture and ill-treatment were documented, and eight people lost their lives. The scenes presented in MINSK are based on the testimonies of witnesses. Independent director Boris Guts, who grew up in Omsk, Russia, filmed the odyssey of his middle-class couple – he is an architect, she a student – without a single cut, in turn lending this political thriller enormous momentum: the escape from the police, arrest, arbitrariness, renewed escape and helplessness. Adrenaline-fuelled filmmaking very much in the tradition of socially-committed auteur cinema. Needless to say, the director was not allowed to shoot in Belarus and the film is banned in both Belarus and Russia, and not only because of the Putin-Lukashenko joke at the beginning.
Text: Bernd Buder
English: Peter Rickerby
The director about his film: "Like many other people, on the 10th and 11th of August last year I followed, literally online, all of the horrors that were happening in Minsk and other Belarusian cities, and couldn't help but feel moved and horrified. As such, it was already clear to me back then that this had to be filmed, this horror has to be captured on film, and without any editing; absolutely not, since the audience needs to see it all non-stop, for an hour and a half. The viewer has to become a participant of these events. We cannot sit on our comfortable sofas, in our cosy cafes in Moscow or somewhere else far away in provincial Russia, watch everything on our Telegram channels, say 'ooh' and 'aah' and do nothing. (...) Instead of an unblemished, smoothed out film fantasy, I wanted to show a reality in which a totalitarian police state can destroy a person's life in just an hour and a half, before your very eyes, whilst you’re still watching the film".
Stadthalle: Original version with English subtitles + German simultaneous translation.
Weltspiegel Saal 2: Original version with English subtitles
Anastasia Shemyakina (Julia)
Aleksey Maslodudov (Pavel)
Boris Guts - Boris Guts was born on November 7, 1980 in Russia. He is a producer and director, known for Smert nam k litsu (2019), Fagot (2018) and Arbuznye korki (2016).