Image attribution: Kastey, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
The war memorial in Yelnya shown in the above photograph features in this documentary film about Yelnya.
If you would like to skip the introduction to this film and watch it now, here is the link to the film in this article.
This Article was updated on 21 April 2022
Reason for update: New information from The Times of Israel about the documentary film about Yelnya.
On 9 April 2022, The Times of Israel, reported that the Town of Glory film-maker Dmitry Bogolyubov had fled Moscow for Israel following his documentary critical of the Putin regime.
Read more about this, including further insight into the film and its author Dmitry Bogolyubov. Source: The Times of Israel.
I felt incredibly sad watching this documentary film about Yelnya and its people.
Russia: A small town clings to its Soviet past
This documentary film about Yelnya was originally released in 2019 by First Hand Films and is set in the small provincial town of Yelnya in the Smolensk Oblast of Russia.
The film is remarkable for many reasons, but one that comes across very strongly is that it gives a frightening insight into the mindset of how many (but of perhaps not all) Russians have been allowed to saturate themselves in the personality cult of Vladimir Putin, much fuelled by having access to only one source of news information.
It is timely that DW.Com released this documentary on 29 March 2022, during the 5th week of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The filmmaker, Dmitry Bogolyubov, lets residents and events from Yelnya speak for themselves, and there is minimum input in the film from Bogolyubov.
Bogolyubov follows the daily lives of some residents of Yelnya while they live out their existence in what appears to be a town where, for most, there is little money to go around.
16-year-old Maria Zubkova (much dominated by her mother) portrays the glory of Russia, its army and the Youth Army, to which she belongs.
The description of Maria in the previous paragraph (known in the community by her diminutive name of Masha) is not intended to be a criticism. She only sees one side of Russia’s story.
Another resident, Sergey, features in the documentary and comes through very powerfully. Sergey seems to have formed a different view about why so many residents in Yelnya and Russia live in poverty.
Young children here are brought up on a diet of Russian patriotism and nationalism that glorifies Vladimir Putin and instils perceived fear of people and states.
There is nothing wrong with being patriotic about your country and commemorating victories that are just. When these parades are hijacked by dictators pursuing their gains, they become sinister by celebrating and legitimising wars against peaceful nations.
Watch the documentary film about Yelnya on DW.com Documentaries
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