A film by Sarah McCarthy
2022, 26 minutes
No. 379

Russian civil rights activist Anastasia Shevchenko has faced strong repercussions for speaking out against her government. She endured house arrest for two years, and became the first person found guilty of “organizing activity of an undesirable organization” by a Russian court, for her work with the Open Russia movement. Amnesty International declared her a “prisoner of conscience.”

While Anastasia was under arrest, her teenage daughter Alina was hospitalized and died alone, becoming an early example of the Russian regime’s willingness to use the separation of parents and children as a way to silence dissent. This intentional rupture of the parental bond is a denial of the elemental human right to care for our children.

The spiritual and emotional burden that Anastasia carries makes her determination even more remarkable, as she continues to raise her two other children. One morning she gathers them and her elderly mother and takes a train across Russia to the Black Sea, a journey that this intimate story captures with poetic visual grace. Against the bright horizon, they come to terms with the family’s loss, and Anastasia realizes the only way she can continue to fight is to leave her homeland.

Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival
Official Selection, Doc NYC
Official Selection, Telluride Film Festival
Official Selection, Montclair Film Festival

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