Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer
Directed by Mike Learner and Maxim Pozdorovkin (2013)
This documentary mainly concerns the 2012 trial of three members of the Russian feminist punk rock and performance art group Pussy Riot, for a “blasphemous” performance behind the altar of Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior church. Their stated purpose was to protest 1) the increasing influence of the Orthodox church over the secular Russian state and 2) patriarchal Orthodox doctrine portraying women as inherently sinful. Although the group’s preference was to perform anonymously in brightly colored balaclavas, they became world famous following their arrest in the cathedral and subsequent trial.
The formal charges against them were hooliganism, disrupting the social order and showing hatred for religion and disrespect for society. Denied bail or visits from their family, they were held in custody until their trial began in late July.
I was fascinated by clips from their trial. Unlike the court system in Britain and former colonies where only attorneys are allowed to address the court, Russian defendants are invited to read statements and members of the media and public are allowed to communicate with prisoners in the dock.
In September 2012, one member (Katya) was released on appeal after her new lawyer presented video evidence that she hadn’t started playing or singing when the arrests occurred. The other two were released in December 2013 when the Duma granted them amnesty.
The film makes no mention of direct funding Pussy Riot received from the US State Department and George Soros-funded “open society organizations – as part of a wider campaign, presumably, to undermine popular support for Putin. See Pussy Riot: A Grotesque Creation of the US State Department
In 2016, the group anticipated the election of Donald Trump when they recorded “Make America Great Again” (below).
Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer can be viewed free on Beamafilm.