Modern day Russia has a long and tumultuous political and social history. Starting with Peter the Great, the Tsars ruled for almost two hundred years until the aristocracy was overthrown in the October Revolution. After a civil war, the Soviet Union was formed in 1922. In 1991, as the USSR was on the verge of collapse, there was a coup d’état against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The Events charts the days that followed.
Using footage filmed by eight cameramen in (then) Leningrad, director Sergei Loznitsa (Maidan, In the Fog) creates a historical document of those uncertain times. The cameras are not trained on the leadership or army, but instead on ordinary people. Russians who are anxious, scared, confused and angry as they desperately try to discover what is going on. They flood out onto the streets in vast numbers, demanding their freedom and the continuation of democracy.
The Event is a fascinating insight into a country which was still firmly behind the Iron Curtain. It’s a unique glimpse of a historical event we were only able to witness from afar. It’s remarkable to think that this spontaneous outrage could happen in such recent history. Particularly, given the current political situation in Russia. The Event is a powerful piece of documentary film-making, which shows the possibilities of change, without saying a word.
You can watch The Event on MUBI from Friday 4 August.