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‘Navalny’ on Russia’s opposition leader premieres at DocsBarcelona film festival

Focused on imprisoned politician, director claims Putin uses "murder and violence to solve problems"


18 May 2022 02:07 PM


ACN | Barcelona

The DocsBarcelona film festival premieres on Wednesday with a documentary based on Russian political opposition figure Alexei Navalny. The Sundance festival public award winner, directed by Daniel Roher, tells the story of the imprisoned Russian who was poisoned in 2020. 

‘Navalny’ focuses on the poisoning that the opposition figure suffered while flying from Siberia to Moscow. Roher’s piece will also tell the story of the investigation behind the attack

"Putin uses murder and violence to solve his problems," Roher said during a press conference on Tuesday, a day before the festival started. 

Navalny, who utilizes his social media channels to organize anti-government demonstrations and advocate reforms against corruption in Russia, is currently imprisoned in the Pokrov penal colony, 100km from Moscow.

"I knew I had this extraordinary person in front of me and that he was very brave, on a personal level I found him to be very pleasant and funny," the documentary maker said.

The motivation for making the movie, whose filming concluded in January 2021, comes from Roher’s own innocence in entering an unknown world. 

During the recording, the director acknowledged that Navalny felt uncomfortable with the crew around him, but they were able to record extraordinary moments. 

The documentary is, in fact, in its own category in the festival - the opening, with four other sections making up the event, two of which are competitive.

These competitive categories are the Official Section Panorama and the Official Section Latitud, are divided regionally, with the former showcasing documentaries in the international scene, with the latter having a focus on the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America.

Meanwhile, the films not competing for awards include the Special Sessions, as well as DOC-U, a section dedicated to the documentary talent of Spanish higher education centers.

In all, the filmmakers are gunning for ten awards, the most prestigious of these being the Doc Award for Best Documentary, which includes a statuette and €5,000.

With DocsBarcelona celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Honorary Docs Award is making its debut, which will be given to an individual with a particularly outstanding career in documentary filmmaking.

DocsBarcelona is a global documentary project. It includes the festival, as well as a professional market, a documentary distribution brand, exhibition network and courses for aspiring documentary filmmakers. 

Aside from film screenings, during the 12 days the festival is on there will be several documentary-related activities to participate in, such as round table discussions, talks, and networking events.

The festival is running until May 29, and films will be screening in multiple cinemas around the Catalan capital. However, for those who are elsewhere, many of the titles are also available for viewing on the online streaming platform, Filmin.

Tickets for cinema screenings start at €7, whereas online tickets are just €3.95 for feature length movies, with short films costing even less.

They are also available for the entire festival, which includes six sessions, with an adult ticket costing €30 in cinemas, and €20 on Filmin. Discounts are available for younger viewers and Filmin subscribers.



  • A moment of 'Navalny' documentary (by DocsBarcelona via ACN)

  • A moment of 'Navalny' documentary (by DocsBarcelona via ACN)