An international team of filmmakers has made a documentary about the sham trial of their colleague, Oleg Sentsov, whom Russia in 2015 had sentenced to 20 years in prison on absurdly fabricated charges. Titled “The Trial,” it is the first documentary about the farcical injustice inflicted on Sentsov and three others, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Gennadiy Afanasiev, and Oleksiy Chyrniy, accused of “terrorism” after they opposed the Russian occupation of their native Crimea. The filmmakers are searching for translators of good will who are willing to help the film reach international audiences.
In August 2015, a trial was held against Sentsov and Kolchenko in Russia’s Rostov-on-Don. Despite the absence of convincing evidence and one of the witnesses retracting his testimony as that given under torture, the court sentenced Sentsov to 20 years, as an alleged leader of a “terrorist group.” International human rights organizations have recognized Sentsov as a political prisoner, and international film circles are working towards the release of Oleg Sentsov.
Sentsov was unshakeably defiant in court, and his last speech in court had become proverbial.
“The idea of the film was born from our own weakness because we couldn’t influence the fate of this person who just wants to live in a free country and shoot films. We thought that the Soviet methods of “bloody terror” have long passed, but the events of today, unfortunately, are evidence to the contrary.
We hope that the finished film will be a contribution to the international campaign to defend Oleg Sentsov and will help him return to freedom. Sometimes, we have no right to be silent,” the filmmakers wrote on the crowdfunding campaign site for the film.
Film director Askold Kurov, who personally knows Sentsov, was so shocked by the trial that he decided to show the circumstances of the case of Oleg Sentsov with the help of a documentary. He joined forces with another film director Andriy Lytvynenko in July 2014 and shooting for the film took off in Moscow and Kyiv and lasted over a year. The team also includes Estonian film producers Mariya Havrylova, Maxim Tuula, as well as Sentsov’s producer Olha Zhurzhenko.
As filming Oleg is prohibited anywhere except the courtroom, other solutions were found to introduce the hero to the audience. Oleg’s story was told through interviews with people who were close to him, through his texts, sometimes, with the help of animation, and also – through events and the stories of heroes who got involved in this story and changed their lives.
The team kept the budgets low, and the $1755 that they crowdfunded was used for professional post-production of the picture. Now, they need your help to translate the documentary in time for the Berlinale, so it would tell Oleg’s story to the widest audiences.
If you would like to help translate/edit the documentary and have your name included in the captions, please fill out this form: