This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



Cyril Tuschi seeks to uncover the truth behind Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his controversial imprisonment in compelling documentary (courtesy of Kino Lorber)

KHODORKOVSKY (Cyril Tuschi, 2011)
Film Forum
209 West Houston St.
November 30 - December 13 (extended through December 22)

On October 25, 2003, Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested for tax fraud and has been in prison ever since. The controversial story of the eight-billion-dollar man is told in German director Cyril Tuschi’s political-thriller documentary Khodorkovsky. Combining Michael Moore’s rugged determination to meet with GM CEO Roger Smith in Roger & Me with a police-procedural narrative, Tuschi (Slight Changes in Temperature and Mind) desperately tries to speak with the imprisoned Khodorkovsky, but for most of the film he only gets to communicate him through letters while instead talking with his first wife, his mother, his son, former business partners, spies, and various politicians, some of whom share illuminating details about the life and career of the seemingly equally loved and despised socialist-turned-capitalist and others who adamantly refuse to say anything about the onetime head of the Yukos oil company, perhaps out of fear of retribution. Khodorkovsky is alternately shown to be a philanthropic businessman who founded the Open Russia Foundation charitable project and a ruthless tyrant whose giant ego resulted in his publicly butting heads with former Russian president Vladimir Putin, the reason why many think he is in jail — and might never get out. Tuschi supplements the film with black-and-white constructivist animation of Khodorkovsky, placing him firmly in between socialism and capitalism as he seeks to lead Russia into a new age. Featuring music by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt and narration by Jean-Marc Barr and Harvey Friedman, Khodorkovsky paints a fascinating portrait of contemporary Russia as well as of one of its most enigmatic and mysterious figures. Tuschi and Khodorkovsky’s son Pavel will be at Film Forum on November 30 to talk about the documentary and its subject following the 7:50 screening.

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