Synopsis by Nathan Southern
Historically speaking, documentarist Laura Bialis' nonfiction effort Refusenik marks one of the first cinematic attempts to chronicle the decades-long liberation of Soviet Jews, from the early years of the 20th century through the end of the Cold War. Drawing from archival footage and extended interviews, Bialis documents the process by which a regionally oriented, grassroots social-activist movement ultimately ballooned into as massive, transcontinental human-rights crusade. By shining a light on the activists who risked their safety (and, in some cases, their lives) -- many enduring hellish years in Gulag labor camps -- Bialis' film explores the concepts of martyrdom and self-sacrifice, even as the director carefully defines a broader socio-historical progression.
activism, anti-Semitism, human-rights, Jewish, Soviet