Nashi is an increasingly popular political youth organization with direct ties to The Kremlin. Officially, its goal is to support the current political system by creating a future elite among the brightest and most loyal Russian teenagers. But their agenda is also to keep the political opposition from spreading their views among the Russians.
We meet 19-year-old Marsha, a Nashi commissar and spokesperson. Marsha is a middle class girl and her family lives, like any other average Russian, in a small flat in the province. Marsha, a young and ambitious girl, seduced by the energy of the movement, the future prospects and opportunities that this organization would be able to provide, joined the Nashi at the age of 15. In almost no time she progressed to the very top of the organization, becoming the protégé of Russia's Minister of Youth. She has posed with her much admired political leader and icon, Vladimir Putin – and on one occasion, even kissed him when he attended a Nashi meeting.
Marsha belongs to the educated, well-mannered and well-spoken part of Nashi. But according to the opposition, Nashi also has a radical wing that is secretly responsible for threats and violent attacks against anyone who doesn’t agree with Putin.
When Marsha is up for election within Nashi and loses to a candidate whose program is called “fighting the enemies of Russia”, she starts questioning her role in the Nashi movement for the first time. She meets people with other political views including the journalist Oleg Khasin with whom she debates on television. And then the unexpected happens. Although they passionately disagree, Marsha and Oleg become close friends.
Marsha’s new acquaintances soon get her in trouble with Nashi and when “unknown perpetrators” attack Oleg Kashin, she realizes that she has to make a stand.
Four years ago I went to Moscow to research and get closer to ’The New Russia’. There I met Masha Drokova, an 18 year-old girl, who loved Putin – and everything he stands for. With great passion, she told me about Nashi, a youth organization that she was a spokesman for. According to Masha, Nashi would ensure a Russian rule of the world in the 21st Century.
Masha was captivating, obviously, because of her enthusiasm and sense of direction, but at the same time she was young at heart and possessed a youthful sweetness and optimism – a sharp contrast to the old-fashioned, totalitarian way of worshipping Putin.
When Marsha showed me around, she brought me to a tent, which Nashi had fitted out as an emergency head quarters in case a revolution should break out in Russia. From the head quarters, then, Nashi would be able to defend Russia under any circumstances. This was a serious constellation.
Later I learned that the head quarters, this mobile office, was part of a much larger strategy aimed at young members: It gave the impression that the political opposition posed a great threat to Russian security and they were therefore to be considered enemies of Russia.
Masha brought me close to ’The New Russia’ in a way that I have never before experienced. I was placed in the centre of the political conflict that stirs in Russia these very days. It is a conflict between different views of how to implement democracy in a country with a long history of dictatorship.
It has been both fascinating and scary to enter the Nashi world; a super modern and attractive youth environment with beautiful and intelligent young people, who dream of a great future – for themselves and for their country. But Nashi is, never the less, a movement, that with its undivided devotion to political icons bear a frightening resemblance to other fanatic youth organizations of the past.
To me, Masha is the essence of ’The New Russia’. She is born when The Soviet Union collapses and therefore she belongs to the first generation of the new country.
Nashi gives Masha, and many other ambitious young people, the opportunity to “become something important”, which makes it easy to understand why an organization like Nashi is so popular with the young.
However, Masha’s drive soon tests the limits of Nashi’s unwritten rules that you do not socialize with – and most definitely do not become friends with – ”The Enemies of Russia”. When Masha meets Oleg Kashin, a controversial journalist, and participates in a debate with him, she moves into a grey area, which will bring her big problems. As the drama evolves, Masha suddenly faces a personal turning point.
Putin’s Kiss is a film that explores the complexity that pervades modern Russia – all of which is exemplified in the story of a young girl who, as the film progresses, grows up and learns to stand on her own two feet.
Putin’s Kiss is Lise Birk Pedersens first feature length documentary. She has worked with a experienced crew of producer, Helle Faber (Enemies of Happiness, The Dark side of Chocolate), cinematographer, Lars Skree (Armadillo), editors, Janus Billeskov Jansen (Burma VJ) & Steen Johannesen (The president)
The film is produced by Monday Production in association with made in copenhagen.
For further information contact:
Josephine Michau +45 6066 4842
Danish Film Institute, Anne Marie Kürstein +45 4041 4697
DR International Sales, Kim Christiansen +45 2854 2299
Facebook: Putin’s Kiss
Friday, January 20, 9:00 p.m. - Salt Lake City Library, SLC
Tuesday, January 24, 6:00 p.m. - Yarrow Hotel Theatre, Park City
Wednesday, January 25, 2:30 p.m. - Prospector Square Theatre, Park City
Thursday, January 26, 3:00 p.m. - Broadway Centre Cinema 6, SLC
Friday, January 27, 6:15 p.m. - Holiday Village Cinema 2, Park City
Saturday, January 28, 9:15 a.m. - Holiday Village Cinema 2, Park City
19-11 13.30 Tuschinski 1.
Other regular screenings:
22-11 10.30h Tuschinski 1
23-11 11.30h Tuschinski 2
25-11 19.30h OBA
20-11 17.15h Munt 12
17-11 VPRO Sneak Preview Tuschinski 1
20-11 Vrij Nederland Munt 11
24-11 VPRO Review
26-11 Volkskrant day Tuschinski 1
What will happen if your political enemies become your friends?
A film by Lise Birk Pedersen
World premiere at IDFA Saturday 19.11 13.30 Tuschinski 1
Putin’s Kiss gives a unique and rare insight into democracy “Putin-style,” told through the course of action around the 19-year old Masha, who has devoted her life and future to a career in Russian politics.
Masha’s number one political icon is Vladimir Putin. So Masha has joined the Putin-friendly youth organization, Nashi, along with hundreds of thousands of other young Russians, from the age of 15. Nashi has direct ties to Kremlin and Masha has been talking to Putin himself at several occasions. She even kissed him at a youth gathering.
Nashi’s official agenda is to regain Russia’s status as a superpower nation, but on the inner lines they are Putin’s most important tools to keep the political opposition from spreading their views among the Russians.
In almost no time Masha has progressed to the very top of the increasingly popular organization, becoming the spokesperson of Nashi and the protégé of Russia's Minister of Youth. She belongs to the educated, well-mannered and well-spoken part of Nashi. But according to the opposition, Nashi also has a radical wing that is secretly responsible for threats and violent attacks against anyone who doesn’t agree with Putin.
Masha starts questioning her role in the Nashi movement for the first time, when she starts socializing with people from the opposition. One of her new friends is the critical journalist Oleg Khasin. Masha’s new acquaintances soon get her into serious trouble with Nashi, who does not tolerate any interaction with the “enemies of Russia”.
As the situation unfolds dramatically, Masha realizes that she has to make a stand.
Putin’s Kiss is out just in time for some major political events in Russia. In December 2011, the Duma-election will take place parallel to the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Republic.
In March 2012 Russia will face a historical presidential election; Putin has recently announced his re-candidacy after leaving the post to Medvedev for the last four years.
Putin’s Kiss will supplement the up-coming political events in Russia with context never seen in documentary before; told in a modern, contemporary style.
The protagonist of the film, Masha Drokova and the Putin-critical journalist and blogger, Oleg Kashin, will attend IDFA and participate in a selected Q&A’s along with the director.