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On Feb. 21, 2012, members of the feminist art collective Pussy Riot, donning their colorful trademark balaclavas, or ski masks, participated in a 40-second “punk prayer protest” on the altar of Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral before being detained. Arrested and tried for trespassing, wearing “inappropriate” sleeveless dresses and disrupting social order, Nadia, Masha and Katia were accused of religious hatred in a trial that reverberated around the world and transformed the face of Russian society.
An official selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where it received the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Punk Spirit, PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER tells their story with exclusive interviews and unprecedented access to courtroom footage.
Filmed over the course of six months by directors Mike Lerner (HBO’s “Afghan Star”) and Maxim Pozdorovkin, PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER reveals the real people behind the balaclavas. Through interviews with band members, family and the defense team and unprecedented footage of the trial, the film highlights the forces that transformed these women from playful political activists to modern-day icons, exposing the state of Russian justice in the modern era.
Founded in 2011 after Vladimir Putin was given a third term as Russian president amidst accusations of impropriety, Pussy Riot is an anonymous feminist art collective/punk band based in Moscow. The group’s protest inside the cathedral was intended to protest Putin’s union of church and state.
Mixing farce and tragedy, PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER shows how Nadia, Masha and Katia battled a system determined to make an example of them, featuring footage of the defendants on trial, where they were placed in a glass cage, as well as visceral performances and rehearsals of Pussy Riot shot in and around Moscow. As they defended themselves inside the courtroom, other Pussy Riot members planned new guerilla performances and cultivated a protest movement across the globe. Organizations like Amnesty International and celebrities such as Sting, Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono and Madonna spoke out in support of their cause and freedom of speech worldwide.
Nadia, Masha and Katia were eventually sentenced to two years at a labor camp, although Katia’s conviction was overturned on appeal, based on the fact that she was not physically present on the altar that day. Nadia and Masha are continuing their legal crusade, while Katia remains part of Pussy Riot.
— The Shadow Electric (@ShadowElectric) January 6, 2014
Also watched the Pussy Riot film last nigh too, twas v. good. Too bad that its showing in Moscow is being thwarted http://t.co/BS0Y1Q1TRw
— Gabriella Coleman (@BiellaColeman) January 2, 2014