Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer – HBO Doc

HBO Pussyriot A Punk Prayer Tom Tom Magazine Review

As most of you already know, Pussy Riot is a feminist activist group from Russia who wear balaclavas and brightly colored clothing and perform protest art against their government and its overt patriarchy. As a result of one of their protests, three members ended up incarcerated in a Russian labor colony for a sentence of two years beginning in late 2012 (one member was released early on accounts of footage revealing her level of participation at the time of the arrest). Their crime was hooliganism. Their artist/political statement encourages women everywhere to pick up instruments and speak their mind.

The HBO documentary begins 6 months prior to the sentencing and documents the underground network of young feminists meeting and planning their political actions using guitars and mics as their weapons. The film reveals first-ever footage of the group’s meeting locations, the three member’s capture, the ensuing court hearings, and their appeals. Perhaps one of the most alarming elements that the film illuminates, is the hostile climate against the group amongst locals and specifically members of The Orthodox Russian Church. In one part of the film, the camera operator records them calling the incarcerated women witches and demons which immediately brings to mind a witch trial. Juxtaposed to what appears to be the mass sentiment, the filmmakers also capture genuine moments with the captives’ families and lay down the history of where each of the women come from and their parents’ pasts. The film ends with the unknown outcome of what will happen, both to the movement and the remaining two imprisoned women — but also with the overwhelming sense of outside support for the women.

After screening the film, we were left with a sense of trepidation for the future of Russia, its women, and others who choose art and music as their medium of communication. While it is happening in Russia, the feeling like it is happening here and everywhere is unavoidable. All should be able to express themselves freely and peacefully without government intervention. And those of us who share that freedom need to not take it for granted — and ideally help those of us who don’t have it.

Find out more about ways to support Pussy Riot here: www.freepussyriot.org

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer airs at 9pm on HBO June 10, 2013 | Dir. Mike Lerner & Maxim Pozdorovkin

By Mindy Abovitz & Rebecca DeRosa for Tom Tom Magazine

Photo courtesy of HBO

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