Disturbing document profiles three anti-Putin dissidents

Russian President Vladimir Putin may be absolutely terrible for the world, but he’s a perverse boon to the documentary genre. In addition to the many films depicting the horrors of the war in Ukraine, there is a growing subgenre of nonfiction films about courageous individuals who risk their lives to fight its regime. The latest is the new documentary by James Jones (Chernobyl: the lost tapes), which serves as an unofficial companion to the Oscar-winning film Navalny. Receiving its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, the ironically titled film Antidote constitutes another worrying reminder of the misdeeds of the current Russian regime.

One of the things that requires an antidote is of course poison, which features heavily in the film. One of his subjects is an anonymous Russian scientist, whose features are distorted via a technique called “digital veiling” (we’re talking about a growing industry). His specialty was the development of new poisons, a product of great interest to the Russian government. When he realized that his creations were not being used against terrorists but rather against political opponents and dissidents, he began to issue an anonymous whistleblower. Unsurprisingly, he was quickly forced to leave the country, even if his family was not able to accompany him immediately.

Antidote

The essential

An unfortunate real-life thriller.

Place: Tribeca Film Festival (Documentary Competition)
Director:James Jones

1 hour 29 minutes

The documentary focuses largely on someone who is all too visible: Christo Grozev, a Bulgarian investigative journalist with ties to journalism groups such as Bellingcat and The Insider. Several years ago, he led the investigation into Navalny’s poisoning and participated in the documentary that followed. Unfortunately, such notoriety doesn’t help when it comes to dealing with Putin. Grozev was forced to leave Vienna, where he lived. In the film’s opening scene, he is seen on the phone with his father, informing him that he has reliable information that if he returns to Austria, he will be killed.

Accused of slandering the Russian army (you know how sensitive they are), Grozev lives in exile, constantly fearing for his life and that of his father. One of the film’s talking heads, The Insider contributor Roman Dobrokhotov, said: “If I were Putin, I would definitely kill myself and Christo Grozov.” Without a doubt.”

Just like the documentary Navalnywho described the threats against him as they happened, Antidote follows Grozev, who becomes worried when he cannot reach his father on the phone for several days. His worst fears are realized when he contacts the local police and learns that his father has died suddenly. The autopsy results are inconclusive, leading him to…

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