Thursday, June 01, 2006

Damning Belarusian Documentaries On Lukashenka's Regime Smuggled Out Of Belarus; To Be Shown In New York City

"In the fiercely critical documentaries "Long Knives Night" and "Reporting From a Rabbit Hutch," the Belarussian director Victor Dashuk casts a cold eye on Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, the recently re-elected president of the Republic of Belarus. First elected in 1994, Mr. Lukashenko dissolved the Belarussian parliament and seized control of the country in 1996. But "Long Knives Night" is less about the man himself than what Mr. Dashuk views as the morally corrupt nature of Soviet power.

Examining Soviet leaders from Lenin to Gorbachev, Mr. Dashuk argues that Belarussians have always been complicit in their own oppression, citing their "desire for self-immolation" and need to submit to domineering men. It's an astonishing diatribe, both sad and cynical, and it lends the film a despairing resonance.

Less philosophical and more turbulent, "Reporting From a Rabbit Hutch" explores the realities of life in Belarus and the fates of those who dare oppose the president. Driven by the voices of Belarussian citizens, including distraught relatives of dead or missing politicians and journalists, the film heaves with disturbing scenes of violence against innocent Belarussians.

"For my children," an injured woman tells the camera, blood coursing down her face. It's not the most horrifying sight in either film; that honor belongs to the ritualistic crucifixion of a dog. But it's undoubtedly the most affecting.

Opening in a cemetery and closing in the wasteland left by the Chernobyl disaster, this remarkable pair of films was shot on celluloid but will be shown on videotape smuggled out of Belarus. Together they constitute one man's tragic view of his homeland, a view that's nothing less than a primal howl of outrage and disgust."

Written, produced, directed and edited by Victor Dashuk; in Russian and Belarussian, with English subtitles. At the Pioneer Theater, 155 East Third Street, at Avenue A, East Village [New York City]. Total running time: 96 minutes. These films are not rated.

Jeannette Catsoulis "From Belarus, Indelible Portraits of Power's Absolute Corruption" New York Times, June 1, 2006

Minsk, Belarus; in Winter awaiting its Spring.

The small cranes on the river bank mark the site of archeological surveys into Minsk's 12th century founding settlement. The rear of the large Palace of the Republic is in the left background. The October Square in front of the Palace of the Republic was the site, this past late Winter, of "illegal" democratic opposition rallies -- large and small.

Photo credit: With thanks.


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