Old MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

The Russian Spy, A Filmmaker's 'Disbelief'

When the story broke last Sunday that the onetime KGB man, later a prominent critic of the Russian government, had been poisoned the day he’d eaten lunch in a London sushi restaurant, there’d been the inevitable references to James Bond and John LeCarre. As in, Who knew the Cold War was still on? Let’s show a clip of CASINO ROYALE.

Then the family of Alexander Litvinenko released this photograph.

Outside of a London hospital this week, friends and family of the Russian ex-spy gathered before reporters to deliver an extraordinary statement: a dying man’s defiant goodbye– and his accusation that he was being murdered on the orders of his former boss, Russian premier Vladmir Putin. Litvinenko, a 42 year old former KGB officer who defected in 2000 and became a British citizen, succumbed to radiation poisoning on Nov. 23.

Standing beside Litvinenko’s grieving father, Walter, and translating for him, was filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov (SPRINGING LENIN, LUBOV AND OTHER NIGHTMARES, CHILDREN’S STORIES: CHECHNIA).

Nekrasov wrote of their final conversation for the Times of London.

One of Litvinenko’s most dangerous accusations involved the Putin regime’s involvement of a deadly 1999 Moscow apartment building bombing.

disbelief-1.jpg(Look on CNN and the BBC. The date was Sept. 9, 1999) Nekrasov’s 2004 documentary DISBELIEF, which played at Sundance in 2004, explored the frustrating and risky attempts to uncover the truth.

Russian authorities quickly blamed the attack on Chechen separatists–so quickly that some suspected it was a ruse by Russian hardliners to justify further military action against the rebellious (and mineral-rich) state of Chechnya (The FSB Blows up Russia, Litvinenko’s book, accuses the Russian security services of causing a series of apartment block explosions in Moscow in 1999 that helped to propel Putin into the presidency.

Nekrasov’s 2004 documentary DISBELIEF, which played at Sundance in 2004, explored the frustrating and risky attempts to uncover the truth.

Here’s another story about DISBELIEF from a film magazine called Kinokultura and the notes from a 2005 Russian film festival in Pittsburgh.
The film’s website is at www.disbelief-film.com

Be Sociable, Share!

One Response to “The Russian Spy, A Filmmaker's 'Disbelief'”

  1. This is the most recent news item from the BBC regarding the “suspicious death” of Alexander Litvinenko.

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon