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The documentary delves into the background of the arrest and imprisonment of Alexei Navalny in 2021, especially focusing on what happened since the Russian oppositionist was poisoned by agents of the Russian secret service FSB.


The war in Ukraine overshadowed the news that Alexei Navalny was sentenced to nine more years in prison on March 22nd this year. Since his return to Russia in January of last year, he has been imprisoned under life-threatening conditions in Pokrov Prison near Moscow; he probably will not be released until the end of Putin‘s regime. The documentary NAVALNY by Canadian director Daniel Roher is about the background of this arrest, especially focusing on what happened since the Russian oppositionist was poisoned by agents of the Russian secret service FSB which Navalny‘s team spectacularly uncovered. During the research process a political thriller unfolded of which Navalny‘s employee aptly said: “if this was a film, people would think it is exaggerated.“ Along with thrilling scenes like the momentous telephone prank with one of Navalny‘s assailants, Roher doesn‘t want to just portray the strategies and successes, but also the environment and the character of the most successful Russian oppositionist. However, he doesn‘t succeed in offering insights that go beyond Navalny‘s self-staging. What is revealing is the key role of social media in Navalny‘s political fights. Navalny‘s sings on TikTok (filmed by his daughter) with the backdrop of photographs of his assailant and everyone gets a high five for one million views on his new YouTube video.

Navalny is often criticized for his nationalism and populist rhetoric in western media and the left-wing liberal Russian opposition. NAVALNY doesn‘t leave out this aspect, and lawyer Navalny addresses is it in an understandable way: he wants the majority and nationalist slogans will give him that. Yet there is a feeling that NAVALNY isn‘t much more than a large gearwheel in the protagonist‘s oppositional multimedia machine.

Yorick Berta

Translation: Elinor Lewy


Original title: Navalny
USA 2022, 98 min
Genre: Documentary
Director: Daniel Roher
DOP: Niki Waltl
Montage: Langdon Page, Maya Daisy Hawke, Eamonn O'Connor, Aleks Gezentsvey
Music: Marius deVries
Distributor: DCM
Release: 05.05.2022




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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