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#HotDocs22 Review: Navalny

May 9, 2022

By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

The 2022 Hot Docs Film Festival ran from April 28th to May 8th in Toronto, more information on tickets and showtimes can be found right here.

Canadian director Daniel Roher’s thriller-like documentary Navalny follows Russian opposition leader Alexai Navalny in the aftermath of him being poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok in August 2020, as he works backwards with investigative journalists from Bellingcat to uncover the culprits and pin blame on Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin.

Mixing fly-on-the-wall footage of Navalny working to solve his attempted murder from a safe house in Berlin, with the narrative through-line of Roher’s one-on-one interview with the leader, this is a tautly paced documentary that blends political intrigue and suspense. The film’s centrepiece is a gripping sequence involving a prank phone call that pays off in surprising ways and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.

Roher’s film also functions as a stirring portrait of modern day Russia (that has taken on newfound relevance in light of Putin’s recent illegal invasion of Ukraine), and the bravery of one man to lead a movement standing up against this authoritarian regime.


Saturday, April 30th – 6:30 PM at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema

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