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19-year old Masha is a spokesperson in the government friendly and strongly nationalistic Russian youth organization, Nashi. The movement aims to protect Russia against its 'enemies'. Masha was seduced by the high energy of the movement by the age of 15 and has got a lot of benefits in return for her loyalty. But then she starts seeing a group of critical journalists. Among them is the well-known blogger, Oleg Kashin, who compares Nashi with 'Hitlerjugend'. Masha is defending her movement, but she starts recognizing how harassment and dirty provocations against the Russian opposition by 'unknown perpetrators' is going on around her. When Oleg is getting seriously beaten up and nearly dies, Masha has to take a stand for or against Nashi. Written by
To fully appreciate this documentary, you need to have some idea of the political situation in Russia today. Although technically a democratically elected government and wildly popular with the people, it is essentially a dictatorship. That's because police routinely arrest opposition party candidates (only to release them AFTER the election is over) and journalists are murdered--and so, it's actually a one-party system.
This film is about one element that works hard to enforce the will of Putin and his friends. The NASHI is a youth organization that is fiercely nationalistic, pro-government and against 'enemies of the state'--though these enemies are either vague or people who simply are the opposition party. And, many elements within the NASHI then take it on themselves to attack these folks--after all, they've been repeatedly been told they are the nation's enemies! Sounds familiar? Of course, its parallels to the Hitler Youth are obvious.
Instead of just doing an exposé on NASHI, this film does something very creative. It follows a high officer within NASHI--one of their rising stars. And, through the course of the film you see her gradually begin to question this need to create enemies within Russia. And, she sees friends beaten just for offering civil dissent.
This film is very well-constructed, insightful and will most likely cause a strong reaction within the viewer--all hallmarks of an excellent film. Very thought-provoking--never dull. The bottom line is even if you like Putin, you can't possibly see the system as democratic when the government creates a self-serving youth group and encourages them to 'action' (whatever that means).
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