Despite campaigning on an independent platform, Alexander Lukashenko soon showed his true colours after his became the first democratically elected president of Belarus. One of his first major actions was to cement ties with Russia and twenty-six years later he’s often referred to as the last dictator in Europe. As you can probably imagine, his authoritarian government isn’t exactly popular in the Eastern European country.
In 2020, after years of abuses and forced disappearances of dissenters and political opponents, enough was enough for many Belarusians. Protests began in May following Lukashenko’s decision to run for a sixth term, but exploded after the (highly questionable) election results were announced. The Free Cinema of Belarus has been fighting the regime since 2005. Aliaksei Paluyan’s new documentary, Courage, follows three members of the company during this unrest.
By witnessing this outpouring of dissatisfaction through the eyes of Maryna, Pavel and Denis, Courage affords a rather unique perspectives on the protests. This gives Paluyan’s film a certain sense of urgency and a specific direction. Viewing the troupe operate in so much secrecy and under so many restrictions really hammers home what it’s like living under an oppressive regime. Not only does Courage do a great job of highlighting injustice, it does it with a great eye for a shot.
Courage screens at Visions du Réel.