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Anna Politkovskaya heroine of a Greek tragedy
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, 05 2011
  . Swedish journalist Malcolm Dixelius, who worked for several years in Russia, told ‘Novosti’ about a classic documentary he and Marina Goldovskaya filmed about Anna Politkovskaya, and how it was “one movie for two.” Reporting by Olga Grinkrug.

OLGA GRINKRUG: The website of the Swedish Film Institute, which gave you the grant, said that this film about Anna Politkovskaya, ‘The Bitter Taste of Freedom’, has two directors. Howdid you and Marina Goldovskaya share responsibilities?

MALCOLM DIXELIUS: When AnnaP. was killed, the Swedish Film Institute asked me to do a documentary on her. OlgaKuchkina, a Moscow playwright and publicist, wrote the script. Weused archival footage, interviews, and even reconstructed certain events.
I found a Russian camera operator, got a group together, and began to shoot. ThenAnna’s son Ilya said that he intended to primarily deal with another film project by Marina Goldovskaya. Imet up with Marina and tried to buy from her interviews she had already made. Shehad about 100hours of archival material and conversations with Anna. Sherefused, and so Idropped the project, because it made no sense to continue without this material. InNovember 2009, Iagain tried to discuss cooperation with Marina, this time in Los Angeles. Shestill intended to make a film, but she was displeased with her rough cut. Ioffered her material that Iwas able to film, with the idea of making the project a co-production. InMarch 2010she came to Sweden and we signed an agreement with the Film Institute. Inthe spring of 2010, Marina was done shooting, and that summer she started editing. Dmitry Sushchev from Minsk helped her with this. Asa result, the film is exclusively Marina’s materials and archival footage. Mytask was to provide the sound recording in Sweden with funds we obtained. Iam in fact just a co-producer.

But nothing would have come of it had our views not coincided.

It seemed to us that Anna’s life was a Greek tragedy: the heroine goes to meet her fate with open eyes. Theoutcome is a foregone conclusion. Ourtask was to tell how and why she chose this path, and why she stayed on it until the end.

OLGA GRINKRUG: What period of Politkovskaya’s life is described in the film?

MALCOLM DIXELIUS: From her earliest years until her death. Hermother and sister recall her childhood. Marina herself starts the story when the heroine is married and raising two children by her famous husband. Nextwe examine her journalistic career and the role that events in Chechnya played in it, as well as Dubrovka and Beslan. There is nothing about the murder or its investigation in the film.

OLGA GRINKRUG: For whom is the film intended, and in what language?

MALCOLM DIXELIUS: Everything is in Russian. Theversion for the Swedish documentary film festival in Stockholm has Marina doing the voiceover in English. Thepremiere will be on March 10th, and ‘The Bitter Taste of Freedom’ will participate in the competition. Afterwards we can talk about distribution. InSeptember, the film will come to Moscow for the Swedish cinema week. Inautumn, on the fifth anniversary of Anna’s death, we will release a version for television.

OLGA GRINKRUG: Several movies have already been made about Politkovskaya: there was the film ‘The Last Interview’, which received a Taffy award in 2007, the Dutch film ‘Seven Years on the Frontlines’, as well as other films by Goldovskaya. Whatis this fascination with her?

MALCOLM DIXELIUS: Indeed, Marina made a film about Sasha Politkovsky and Anna Politkovskaya in 1990. Itwas called ‘A Taste of Freedom’. Thenew film, whose title, of course, refers to the old one, uses episodes from it.

Anna absolutely amazed Marina, and she continued to film her over the years. Whatwas the fascination? Firstly, there is this aura of a heroine from a Greek tragedy, which Ialready mentioned. Shewas a rare person, even more so, a rare woman! Shechooses a life path that leads straight to her murder. Imay not entirely agree with Anna, but her courage is amazing.

Secondly, despite all of the above, Anna is an incredibly modern character an independent and strong woman with firm convictions, and she only serves the truth. Sheis no inferior to Lisbeth Salander from Stieg Larsson’s trilogy, and even exceeds her, because Anna was alive and real.

Oh, and thirdly, the story about her husband is also unusual: great love very often ends with parting, but here is his transformation from a journalist famous throughout the country into a man whose career at some point has come to naught, while she transforms from an intern at an in-flight magazine to a publicist with a worldwide reputation.

Iknow that many movies have been made about, but Ihope that this film will remain. Thismovie is about her, and it speaks in her own voice to reveal her feelings more widely and more deeply than other pictures. Iam proud that Iwas involved in this project with Marina.


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