Watch “The Italian” and “A Woman in Berlin”
Someone who wants to take a good hard clear look at Vladimir Putin’s Russia cannot do better than to screen Andrei Kravchuk’s devastating 2005 drama “The Italian” (winner of the 2005 Berlin Film Festival), currently airing on the Sundance movie channel. Filmed at a real orphanage outside St. Petersburg and cast with real orphans, including a brillant and heart-wrenching performance by Kolya Spiridonov as the title character, the film shows Russia as it really is, in all its brutal coldness and deprivation.
It shows the barbaric conditions in which ordinary Russians live, full of contempt and corruption, and the far more brutal torture they inflict on those not lucky enough to be “ordinary” such as orphans. Every single frame in the movie is a slice of Russia life, just exactly as it is lived today under Vladimir Putin. Truly, a picture is worth a thousand words.
It also sends the message that Russians, like the little hero of the film, who are willing to risk everything to stand up to the power of their government, its criminality and its corruption, can win. Just as the USSR fell, so to the malignant KGB regime of Vladimir Putin can collapse if Russians who love their country are willing to demand democracy.