‘Secret Screening Red’ shows political truth through art

Use with fair use.

Use with fair use.

Julia Schaller

Use with fair use.
Image used under fair use doctrine

I fell in love with the Picturehouse Theatre the moment I walked in the door. On both sides of the room were long white projectors playing videos of people walking on screen, doing something random, and then walking back off. The videos on the walls made for an entertaining wait until the film began.
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was one of the first people to appear on the big screen when the stage was cleared and the lights dimmed.
These scenes of Putin turned into a documentary-short about Putin and Russia. The documentary-short was a sort of precursor to the film “Secret Screening Red,” and the short was called “Vladimir Putin in Deep Concentration,” which officially premiered today at 11:30 a.m. at SXSW but BearingNews.org got a peek during True/False.
Directed by Dana O’Keefe and Sasha Kliment, the documentary-short was an upbeat, realistic, spoken, editorial-like piece about the authoritarian regime of Putin in Russia. The documentary-short claimed Putin as the most powerful man in the world, and perfectly connected to the full-length screening which played right after.
The film told the courageous tales of activists defending their human rights and fighting for infinite freedom in Belarus. Since 1994, Alexander Lukashenko has ruled Belarus under totalitarian oppression. The documentary followed a group of acting artists from Belarus, who run an underground theatre, The Free Theatre, and express their political disgust through their art. The theater group reenacted personal experiences between members of the group or family members and the merciless police in Belarus, to spread the word of the situation in Belarus.
During the 2010 election in Belarus, a man named Andrei Sannikov ran against Lukashenko for president. Sannikov ran as an activist against the dictatorship of Lukashenko. In the end, Lukashenko won the election, but the film heavily stressed on the government of Belarus allegedly rigging the votes. When Sannikov tried to protest along with hundreds of others, he was arrested along with masses for speaking out against Lukashenko and the Belarus government.
Vividly depicting life for the average person in Belarus and the immense struggle for those against Lukashenko, this documentary was shocking and incredible. The group involved in The Free Theatre eventually expanded their audience to America, by performing in New York City. When wanting to return to Belarus after time in America, a couple members of the group were declined, as going back would mean imprisonment since the Belarusian government knew about their effort for change against Lukashenko.
This documentary went into depth on the hardships of living in Belarus. The dedication of time the people working on the film spent is vividly seen throughout the whole film, as so much of what was spoken was Russian and had to be translated into English subtitles.
Overall, this film went far and above to include as much information and truth about Belarus because much of the video footage was actually smuggled from Belarus. I think this film was truly powerful and sorrowfully honest. The documentary proved to be a necessity to be shown around the world, so that we can do anything we can to help and understand the different kinds of cruel regimes and unjust governmental power. It beautifully displayed the efforts and help needed to these countries under dictatorship control, even if it’s through the art of acting.
By Julia Schaller