Despite the breakup of the USSR, the Republic of Belarus fundamentally remains a Soviet state, and the authoritarian government of Alexander Lukashenko has held control since 1994. It is therefore unsurprising that over the last twenty years Belarus has cultivated a rich tradition of protest and dissident art with each hopeful movement towards freedom bolstered by creative outpouring. The Belarus Free Theatre very much reflects this tradition of protest, and Dangerous Acts Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus beautifully captures their frenetic and desperate energies.
Directed by Madeleine Sackler, the film picks up with the Free Theatre group following Lukashenko’s farcical 2010 reelection, and the mass street protests that ended in crackdown. Smuggled interviews and tapes of street performances catch the urgency and the existential dilemma of the troupe. These performers have been forced to live their entire lives under an illegitimate rule. And far from the romantic excesses of recent protest films (Netflix produced The Square) Dangerous Acts faces down the very real possibility that these performers will continue to live under this regime for many years to come. As mass protest movements increasingly yield crackdowns and counterrevolution (Egypt, Ukraine, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen), this picture presents a sobering and truthful story.
Thursday, April 17, 7:15pm
Saturday, April 19, 2:00pm
Director: Madeleine Sackler
Writer: Madeleine Sackler
Producers: Ilya Kuzniatsou, Elena Lunyova, Andrea Meditch, Madeleine Sackler
Cinematographers: Daniel Carter, Larissa Kabernik
Editors: Anne Barliant, Leigh Johnson
Music: Wendy Blackstone
Cast: Pavel Gorodnitski, Nikolai Khalezin, Natalia Koliada, Tatyana Mikhailovna Kaliada, Andrei Andreevich Kaliada, Andrei Sannikov, Oleg Sidorchik, Vladimir Shcherban, Yana Rusakevich, Maryna Yurevich
Premiere: September 8, 2013 – Toronto International Film Festival
US Distributor: HBO Documentary Films