NOTE: This article is a republication- Source: Collider.com (by Liam Gaughan).
This year’s Academy Award race for Best Documentary Feature is as exciting as it’s ever been, and not just because award season pundits are struggling to determine which of the excellent nominees will end up taking home a trophy at the end of the ceremony. This year, the films selected tell fascinating stories that create icons out of their star subjects. All The Beauty and the Bloodshed shows the unflinching resolve of artistic activist resisting the Sackler family, Fire of Love is a haunting love story of two ambitious volcanologists, All That Breathes shines a spotlight on a pair of Indian brothers affected by climate change, and A House Made Of Splinters explores the innocent children of Ukraine whose childhoods are thrust into torment. However, none of these films were quite as astonishing as the one nominee that pulled the most shocking and consequential prank in film history.
No, it’s not Jackass Forever. The HBO documentary Navalny explores the rise of the charismatic Russian politician Alexei Navalny, who became the first legitimate opposition candidate to stand up against President Vladimir Putin and call out his government for their egregious crimes. Director Daniel Roher and his crew get incredible footage of Navalny’s efforts, as he admits in a pre-recorded video that he may not survive to see the documentary released. While the existing propaganda machine that Putin’s government used to take down Navalny was certainly haunting to watch in detail, nothing ended up being more gamechanging than a pivotal phone call that confirmed a legitimate conspiracy.
Over the course of the film, Navalny travels across dangerous regions of the country, knowing that his life will be in danger if he continues on his current trajectory. After a near fatal poisoning that Putin’s spies are clearly responsible for, Navalny and the documentary crew settle on a much more difficult task: proving it. Perhaps, undeniable evidence that Putin was directly involved in the crime would draw more attention to Navalny’s cause, as he had already inspired a strong following on social media platforms. However, Roher and Navalny are genuinely gobsmacked when their crazy plan to contact the potential assassins ends up revealing much more than they ever expected in an absolutely jaw-dropping twist.
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