Synopsis by Mark Deming
Vladimir Putin was re-elected president of Russia in a contentious election in late 2011, and while he has been a popular leader, he has also been widely criticized for official corruption, a dictatorial approach to governing, a de-emphasis on human rights, and his alliances with the Russian Orthodox Church to promote a conservative and nationalistic world view. Among those who object to Putin's polices are Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, three young women who are members of a Russian punk rock band called Pussy Riot. Performing in jumpers and ski masks and occasionally staging events that resemble performance art more than a rock show, the all-female Pussy Riot are unabashed leftist activists, embracing the slogans "Kill All Sexists," "Kill All Conformists," and "Kill All Putin-ness." On February 21, 2012, the members of Pussy Riot entered Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral during a service and staged a brief performance in which they performed an anti-Putin song and shouted, "Mother Mary, Banish Putin!" The song lasted less than two minutes, but Russian officials chose to aggressively prosecute the group, and Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were each sentenced to two years behind bars for "violating the right to worship." The trial polarized Russian citizens, and made Pussy Riot a cause célèbre around the world. Filmmakers Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin profile the women behind the controversy and chronicle the events that made them unlikely heroes to proponents of free speech in the documentary Pussy Riot -- A Punk Prayer. The film received its world premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
performance-art, persecution, punk-rock, Russia