Pussy vs. Putin

DIRECTOR: Gogol’s Wives

The new documentary Pussy vs. Putin is a fascinating eyewitness chronicle of Russia’s feminist rock performance/activist group Pussy Riot, before and after the 2013 arrest and imprisonment of three of their members for hooliganism. The group’s fiercely anti-Putin, anti-authoritarian lyrics defending free speech and women’s and gay rights are captured in snippets of rehearsals and in police-abbreviated performances atop buses and inside subway stations, cathedrals and public squares, as the women shout into a portable PA system while dressed in their now signature technicolor balaclavas. Cellphone cameras accompany the group even into jail cells, bearing witness to the fierce condemnation they faced not only at the hands of security police but by legions of counter-protesters (many of them defending Orthodox Christianity) who shout them down. In the period following their arrest as they await sentencing, the film’s cameras capture surprise supportive actions at concerts by Faith No More and Madonna—who, while singing “Like a Virgin” onstage in Moscow, reveals her naked back inked with a Pussy Riot tattoo, prompting the Twitter-verse to light up as audience members are heard daring the courts to give Pussy Riot a stiff sentence after that high-wattage display. But the courts do not flinch. This observational film, created by a filmmaking team called Gogol’s Wives (Taisiya Krugovykh and Vasily Bogatov), lets audiences come to their own conclusions about the meaning and potency of Pussy Riot’s actions, though the ferocity of the backlashes against them—from state, church and lay opposition—leaves little doubt about what they are protesting.

AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: S697

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