CNN wins its first Oscar: “Navalny,” the harrowing film following Russian dissident and former presidential candidate Alexei Navalny took Award for Documentary Feature Film at Sunday’s Academy Awards,
The documentary, directed by Daniel Rohr, gained new relevance in 2022 following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Pose such a threat to Putin that in 2020 Navalny was poisoned in a Kremlin-ordered assassination plot. Navalny was detained in January 2021 and is currently serving a nine-year sentence. He spent most of his sentence in solitary confinement.
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Rohrer, accepting the award, dedicated the Oscar win to Navalny and “all political prisoners around the world”: “Alexei, the world has not forgotten your important message to all of us… wherever we are we must fight against dictators and totalitarianism.” Do not be afraid to protest. It raises its head.
Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, who came on stage with Rohr, said, “My husband is in jail just for speaking the truth. My husband is in jail just for protecting democracy. Alexey, I’m dreaming of the day when you will be free and our country will be free. Stay strong, my love.
“Navalny” was commissioned by CNN Films and HBO Max and was originally scheduled to premiere simultaneously in North America on CNN and the (now defunct) CNN+ streaming service. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine Warner Bros. Pictures acquired the film and gave the Doctor a brief national theatrical release. In partnership with Fathom Events. it is currently Available to stream on HBO Max,
Navalny won the 95th Academy Awards Four other nominees in the Documentary Feature Film category: Shaunak Sen’s “All That Breathes”, about two brothers who run a bird hospital in Delhi; Laura Poitras’ “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” about photographer and activist Nan Goldin and her campaign to hold the Sackler family accountable for the opioid epidemic; Sarah Dossa’s “The Fire of Love”, after two French volcanologists; and Simon Lereng Wilmont’s “A House Made of Splinters”, about three children awaiting their fate in a makeshift shelter in war-torn eastern Ukraine.
Diversity‘S Owen Gleiberman, in his review of “Navalny” called it a “must-watch documentary” telling the “inspiring, terrifying and deeply important story” of the “anti-Putin freedom fighter who has become Russia’s conscience”. The film previously won the BAFTA and Producers Guild Awards for Best Documentary.
While Navalny was recovering from the assassination attempt, he and his team partnered with investigative journalism outlet Bellingcat and other international news organizations to investigate his assassination attempt and find evidence of Kremlin involvement, which was reported extensively in the film. But it is detailed. Navalny was poisoned with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent that disappears from the body within hours and is nearly impossible to detect. (Putin has denied any involvement in the assassination attempt.)
In one of the most surprising scenes in the film, Navalny – after tracking down the phone numbers for members of the hit squad of Bellingcat journalist Christo Grozaev who tried to poison him – cold-calls each of them to ask Why was the murder not done? Planned. After coming up empty the first few times, Navalny, posing as a Russian FSB officer, asked one of the men to spill everything and confirm the details of the plot.
Rohr most recently directed “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band”. “Navalny” is produced by Odessa Rae of RaeFilm Studios, Diane Baker and Melanie Miller of Fishbowl Films and Shane Boris of Cottage M. The documentary is executive produced by Amy Entelis and Courtney Sexton and Maria Pevchik of CNN Films.
“‘Navalny,’ first and foremost, is about the passion, drive and inspiring heroism of Alexey Navalny, who despite celebrating this award, is languishing in a penal colony,” Amy Entellis, EVP, for CNN Worldwide talent and content development, said in a statement. “This is a resounding win for the Academy Award and a testament to the lasting impact of CNN Films for CNN’s global storytelling.”
The film had its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award and the Fan-Selected Festival Favorite Award in the US Documentary Competition.
CNN Films previously earned an Oscar nomination for “RBG,” a 2018 documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The film was a Storyville Films/CNN Films production, distributed by Magnolia Pictures and Participant Media.
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