Screened as part of NZIFF 2018
Donald Trump rendered the term ‘fake news’ redundant as soon as he started shouting the words at anything he didn’t like. But there’s no doubt he has been one of the great beneficiaries of media misinformation in the 21st century. Nor that he has enjoyed a powerful benefactor in Russia, wellspring of so much of the bluster, big-noting and bullshit that came to characterise the 2016 US presidential campaign. Our New President – our being Russia’s, the president being Trump – splices together clips from mass-audience Russian news television and cultish YouTube home videos in a kind of Kremlin-friendly fake-news supercut. Clinton is comically demonised, Trump lionised, and infantilised, too.
Eschewing any voiceover or armchair analysis, Maxim Pozdorovkin, director of Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer (NZIFF13), set himself the task of making “a film that uses the news to tell a story without a single true statement.” If there is a true statement, however, it arrives early on, with stolen images of Dmitry Kiselyov, boss of the ubiquitous, global news channel Russia Today. Addressing editorial staff, he says: “The time of detached, unbiased journalism is over… Editorial policy will be based on love of Russia.” — Toby Manhire
“We wanted to see if it was possible to make a documentary out of news without a single true statement in it…. The basic litmus test for what we would include was whether or not there was enough falsity in the claim in the clip, and we specifically looked at three Russian channels, where something like 87 percent of citizens receive their news – Russia 1, Russia Today, and NTV, the former independent channel that now also follows the party line.” — Maxim Pozdorovkin, interviewed by April Wolfe, Film Comment