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Anna Politkovskaya. Thisis the bitter taste of freedom
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, 15 2011
Marina Goldovskaya has completed a film about the life of the journalist and human rights advocate.

Documentary filmmaker Marina Goldovskaya has completed the picture A bitter taste of freedom. Itis a documentary about Anna Politkovskaya, gathering together a lot of unique material on this person. Thefilm author knew Anna very well, was friends with her and her family, and filmed the documentary in a variety of situations, so it is very personal and dramatic. Thenew feature film, a co-production between the US and Sweden, will soon be shown in Los Angeles and New York. TheInternational Association of Documentary Films has nominated for the picture for an Oscar, or, more precisely, at this stage it was nominated for the right to be selected among the lists of nominees.

Marina Goldovskaya is a well-known documentary filmmaker, playwright and producer, living in the United States for a long time. Sheteaches at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) film school. Sheis the author of more than forty films, including The Solovetsky Government, Archangel Man, The Prince has returned, House of Knights, Shards of the Mirror, and Anatoly Rybakov: Epilogue. She also has written six books, including one published in the U.S. in 2006: Woman with a Movie Camera. On Friday, July 15th, Marina Yevseevna Goldovskaya turned 70.

Voice of America's Russia correspondent Oleg Sulkin spoke with Marina Goldovskaya.
Oleg Sulkin: Congratulations on your jubilee anniversary. Howdo you feel aboutit?

Marina Goldovskaya
: My attitude at this time is not to take it too seriously and not to over-dramatize the situation. Allof this is inevitable, and so Iwill continue to do what Iamdoing.

: How did it happen that you for so many years were filming Anna Politkovskaya?

: It was almost an accident. Shewas the wife of a former student, Alexander Politkovskaya. Iused to teach at the Moscow University College of Journalism, and they were students. In1991 Ifilmed the picture A Taste of Freedom about what would happen in the Soviet Union by 2000. SoI decided to show the change occurring in one family. AndI chose Sasha Politkovsky's family, with whom Ihad a good relationship. Atthe time he was working for the newspaper The View and was riding on the crest of fame. Heand Anya agreed, and Iall but moved in with them in their apartment for six weeks, a small apartment on Herzen Street. During this time Iliterally fell in love with Anya she was much more interesting than Ihad imagined. Shewas smart, beautiful, charming, and had a romantic character, and was subtle and deeply sensitive. Forher student paper she wrote about (the poet) Marina Tsvetaeva. Sothe picture turned out not to be a picture about Sasha and his family, but a picture about Anya and her family.

: Then you filmed her in connection with great events in the life of the nation. Wasthis piece for a future movie about it (the nation)?

: No, not about it. Inmy new film there is this phrase: the Motherland is not the place where you were born, but the time in which you live. Inlate February of 1990a huge rally was held in Moscow for the abolition of the sixth article of the Constitution (supremacy of the state and the communist party over the rights of citizens). Ifilmed it from a sixth-floor balcony and was moved to tears. There was such an expression of the universal human spirit! People held hands and sang songs. Iwas using film, but at that time Idecided to buy a video camera and shoot everything that was going on backthen.

: You filmed for futureuse?

: Exactly. Thenation was at a time of fracture. Ihad no formal interviews, only informal conversations with various people, including, and especially, with Anya. Bythat time Iwas living in Los Angeles, but every summer Icame to Russia. Thefirst person Iwould call was Anya, and we were sure to get together. Wetalked about everything, and Ifilmed it. Iwas literally drawn to her, but at the time she had not yet become a famous journalist, and Icould not even imagine what she would become. Atthe time she was devoting herself entirely to her two young children.

: What is the fate of that film, A Taste of Freedom?

: Iput a picture together and showed it to Sasha and Anya, to get their permission. Anyasaid to me, Marina Yevseevna, let's not show it. Iunderstood everything and so Idid not insist. Theywere close to a divorce, and for the first time were openly talking about it on camera. Sasha was at that time a deputy in the Russian parliament. Ingeneral, it just was not time to release the film, so it never came out in Russia, only abroad. Later during our relationship there was a long break of eight or nine years. Iknew that Anya and Sasha had parting ways, and that he had started drinking and Iknew how hard it was on her because she loved him very much. WhenI met her again, she had been working as a reporter covering the war in Chechnya.

: That amazing episode in the Moscow hospital, after she was allegedly poisoned during a plane stop on her way to Beslan. Annais laying in bed and it as if she is making a confession

: By 2004, we had been friends for 14years. Onthat day Iheard on Echo Moskvy that Anya was in the hospital. Herchildren gave me an address, and by nine in the morning Iwas already there. Shewas pale and very weak, and we talked.

: And all those years a lot of footage about Anna, you had this material just sittingthere

: Not only materials about her. Inow have somewhere around three thousand hours of filmed chronicles. No, not chronicles just life, the lives of ordinary people, and rich people, street scenes in Moscow and in the countryside, conversations with various people. Since 1990I have made fifteen pictures, and each time Ihave used these materials.

: When they killed Anna, did you suddenly decide to do a movie about her? Andif so, why did it take so long, fiveyears?

: That day Iwas in LA and listening to Russian radio. Whenthey reported Anna Politkovskaya was murdered in Moscow, Iwas thunderstruck. Icompletely shut down. Byevening, we had gotten through to her children, Ilya and Vera, and they asked: Marina Yevseevna, will you make a picture about Mother? Istarted working on the film after a year Icould not do it before this, it was as if the blood was still fresh. Iarrived in Moscow and began to film, but then my husband fell ill Andduring this time several films came out aboutAnya.

About a year ago Irealized: Well, so what if they have made a lot of pictures? Theyhave not made the one Iwould have wanted. Noneof them, and there were various films, good, great, and not so great, there was never that same Anya who remained in my film. Soin March of last year Iwent to Moscow, finished filming Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev Iam very grateful to him and Yevgeny Albats, Alexei Venediktov, Karinna Moskalenko, Dmitry Bykov, Alla Bossart, and Anya's children.

: In your film there is footage of Anna Politkovskaya interspersed with episodes from Russian national tragedies the Chechen war, Nord-Ost, Beslan. Whatguided you during the assembly of the picture was the idea to capture her character against the background of great stories?

: Imade a picture about an amazing person. Thetongue seeks lofty words, but she needs to be spoken of somewhat simpler. Shewas talented in everything, and in how she described things, but the picture is not only about her, but also about the times. Thestructure of the film is as if she just exhaled it.

: Not all of your interlocutors speak well ofAnna

: For me at one time it was a revelation that many people and not necessarily those whom she exposed treated her disrespectfully and with hostility. Thefilms about her somehow hush this up. Shewas a very complex person. Shewas an obsessed, uncompromising, and passionatewoman.

: What guided you when choosing the people to talk about Anna? After all, there could have been three or four timesmore.

: There were and three times more, but there just was not enough screen time. (No room for) Irina Petrovskaya, Yasen Zasursky, college friends of Sasha and Anya. Itis ashame.

: Would you care to include these unused materials in a bonus section of aDVD?

: Maybe. Istill have not thought aboutit.

: Why you did not touch on the circumstances of her murder and the investigation?

: All the pictures made about Anya to some degree or another are concerned with this. Iwill tell you something strange: Ido not care who killed her. Whether or not the killers are found, she is no more and never will be again. Thisis the worst thing, and either way, the investigation is not going anywhere.

: How is it not going anywhere? After all, it seems that they found the killer.

: That is all nonsense. Thesearch for the truth will go on for a very long time, and so Ishould leave this picture hanging? Idid not do a picture about a murder investigation, but about the life of a remarkable person, and also how hard it is for a nation to live without the moral authority of its leading personalities. Nowthere remain zero people such as this. Ithink Anna was one such moral authority. WhenAlla Bossart said that Anna was like Mother Theresa, Ithen clearly realized why Iwas doing to picture.

: A square in Italy bears her name, and there is a street in the nation of Georgia, so it might at least be nice if they would hang a plaque on her home in Moscow. Itis not very likely that her moral authority will be recognized in Russia by the government and the public.

: Perhaps something will happen after the showing of myfilm?

: Do you think it will be shown in Russia?

: Iam almost certain. InNovember Ilook forward to its premiere in Moscow. Iam almost even afraid to believe it istrue.

On Voice of America, Friday July 15th, 2011

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