“Act and Punishment” is a feature-length film that is written and directed by Evgeny Mitta and features Pussy Riot band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Mariya Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, who were jailed in 2011 in Russia after protesting the country’s human rights oppression and specifically targeting the election of Vladimir Putin as president of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church’s ties to him.
The film begins after their release from prison and follows their evolution from political activists to punk-rockers that gained worldwide attention after their widely seen concert at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, where band members were attacked by Cossacks who were hired as security at the Games. The film follows the Russian band as they took a stand against Putin and his oppressive regime. While three members were sentenced to prison for 2 years, this documentary explores their moral victory.
Russian activists Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samutsevich decide to separate from the well-known activist group Voina and create their own group named Pussy Riot that would express their ideas of female independence and bring together activism, feminism and punk rock music. Pussy Riot quickly drew public attention after a show in Red Square where they accused the Russian authorities of sexism.
The performance landed them in a police station and much mass media attention. Pussy Riot then decided to conduct a punk rock church service in the Moscow Cathedral of from journalists and cameramen who managed to film it. Three of the girls were arrested and threatened with seven years in prison, as a number of world stars express their support for the artists including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Paul McCartney, Madonna and Franz Ferdinand. They were offered freedom if they agreed to confess and repent for their “crime”. Of course they refused and the court sentenced them to two years in prison. Their defeat in court became their moral victory, as Pussy Riot were cheered on by thousands of their new-found fans and supporters worldwide.
- Amos Lassen