Montreal International Documentary Festival


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Challenging reality. A retrospective of Vitaly Mansky

Challenging reality. A Vitaly Mansky retrospective

Vitaly Mansky is a leading figure of contemporary Russian documentary. For over three decades, this prolific Ukraine-born filmmaker and producer has been building an essential body of work with an impressive filmography of 30 directed films, presented at more than five hundred festivals worldwide and earning him over one hundred prizes. Mansky started his career attending the all-Russian State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in Moscow during the Soviet years with plans to make fiction movies. By the end of his studies however, with Soviet power fading and in the wake of perestroika, he turned to documentary filmmaking as a means to capture the monumental events happening around him.

His uncompromising and critical insight on key political and social issues and his ability to tackle complex subjects and themes is what makes the cinema of Vitaly Mansky both compelling and provocative. An outspoken critic about the precarious state of documentary films in Russia, Mansky has made it his mission to keep documentary filmmaking alive and available to the public. In 2007 he founded Artdocfest in Moscow which has become the largest independent documentary film festival in Russia. Due to mounting political pressure, Mansky has had to relocate the festival to Riga, Latvia, where the main part of the activities are presently held.

Known to be an astute instigator who can make anyone talk, Mansky is certainly someone who is capable of turning ordinary people into heroes, and their lives into works of art. Although several of his films focus on Russia and the surrounding region, he has proven to be successful at turning his analytical camera onto international territories as well. In this retrospective, you’ll have the chance to discover some of the major cinematic explorations of Vitaly Mansky’s rousing work, and his unique ability to deliver sharp storytelling through masterful cinematography and unique stylistic finesse, which will remain a great inspiration

Featuring :

Gorbachev. Heaven - Monday november 15th 6:00 PM - Cinéma du Musée
2021 / Latvia, Czech Republic / 100 min
An intimate portrait of the final president of the Soviet Union, the imposing Mikhail Gorbachev. Mansky, without shying away from tough questions, captures the spirit of both the man and the politician, and looks back at a life that changed the world. This poetic art piece doesn’t provide a historical overview of the era, instead captures Gorbachev’s singular character where his humour, candour and joie de vivre come through.

Under the Sun - Monday november 15th 9:15 PM - Cinéma du Musée
2015 / Germany, Russia, Czech Republic, Latvia / 106 min
In this staggering film, Vitaly Mansky follows a script provided by the North Korean authorities and to the letter; they intend to control all stages of production – from artistic direction to staging – with their infamous inflexibility. And yet, with considerable cunning and a great deal of skill, the filmmaker manages to deconstruct the authoritarian state’s propaganda system. The impressive feat is made possible by the fact that a large part of a documentary’s writing happens during editing.

Pipeline - Tuesday november 16th 7:00 PM - Cinémathèque québécoise / Salle Fernand-Seguin
2013 / Russia, Czech Republic, Germany / 116 min
In this shrewdly intelligent documentary, Mansky follows the gas pipeline that transports gas from Western Siberia to Western Europe. Avoiding direct political commentary, this ethnological exploration in the form of a road movie captures the lives of the communities that are impacted by the pipeline along the way. Through varying portraits from everyday life, the film clearly elucidates the disparity between poverty and wealth.

Masterclass given by Vitaly Mansky - Wednesday november 17th 5:00 PM - Cinémathèque québécoise / Salle Crave

Close Relations - Wednesday november 17th 6:15 PM - Cinémathèque québécoise / Salle Crave
2016 / Latvia, Germany, Estonia, Ukraine / 114 min
Through the prism of his extended family, Mansky explores contemporary divisions in Ukrainian society over the Ukraine-Russia conflict, to question what constitutes national identity. From 2014 to 2015, with his elegantly composed camerawork, this ideal observer talks with family members living in Ukraine, Crimea and Donetsk, hoping to understand why in the post-Maidan-uprising era, they find themselves scattered on opposite sides of the barricades.

Putin's Witnesses - Wednesday november 17th 9:00 PM - Cinémathèque québécoise / Salle Crave
2018 / Latvia, Swiss, Czech Republic / 102 min
Mansky’s gripping documentary chronicles the early stages of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s tyrannical rule. The film is assembled entirely from old footage shot first-hand by the filmmaker when he worked as head of documentary for the state television in the 90's. The alarming tone, set to a shivering musical score, captures Putin’s controversial rise to power and his totalitarian tendencies in remarkable detail, almost hinting at things yet to come.

Private Chronicles. Monologue - Thursday november 18th 6:15 PM - Cinémathèque québécoise / Salle Fernand-Seguin
2011 / Russia / 93 min
A film built entirely of archives, Mansky uses old Soviet home footage to weave together a fictional story that portrays the private life of a Russian citizen born in 1961. The man’s casual voiceover frames the story throughout, which is edited from over 5000 hours of recorded visual material. The result is a moving film illustrating the life of a generation who grew up in a time of monumental social and historical changes.

Broadway. Black Sea - Thursday november 18th 9:15 PM - Cinémathèque québécoise / Salle Fernand-Seguin
2002 / Russia / 78 min
This film transports us to a transient space: a temporary gathering with a carnival-like atmosphere which, every summer, attracts a harmoniously disparate group of vacationers from Russia and the Caucasian republics. In this quasi-neutral setting, nationalist leanings and tensions are put aside, replaced by hedonism for a few summer weeks. In the thick of the action, the camera documents the everyday ordinariness and excesses of this unique community.

Presented in same section

Vitaly Mansky Masterclass

This year, the RIDM pays tribute to filmmaker Vitaly Mansky, whose keen eye and critical perspective on political questions is more necessary than...


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