111 minutes, Germany, 2011, Subtitled, Colour, D-Cinema

It’s like a story from Tolstoy except it’s happening for real in today’s Russia. How did an oil magnate, who was once the world’s richest man under 40, end up as his country’s most famous prisoner? Cyril Tuschi’s engrossing documentary collates insightful and sometimes eccentric interviewees, effective animation and criss-crossing location work as it maps out the surreal saga of Russia’s progress from Soviet economic management to capitalist free-for-all. A consummate communist youth insider, Mikhail Khodorkovsky was allowed to start his own bank during the Perestroika era, and was thus in a position to profit when Boris Yeltsin later doled out the spoils of the former state infrastructure rather than let them fall into foreign hands. Surprisingly, Khodorkovsky’s financial potency was accompanied by moves towards political liberalism and a fateful collision course with one Vladimir Putin. Tuschi’s film sets out to get its subject’s own take on his travails, a daunting quest accompanied by the brooding strings of Arvo Pärt’s Fourth Symphony, dedicated to Mikhail Khodorkovsky. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)

Book Tickets