Hot Docs 2021: Our Review of ‘Courage’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Hot Docs 2021, Movies by - May 03, 2021
Hot Docs 2021: Our Review of ‘Courage’

Courage depicts a country that is still feeling the after effects of many fraudulent elections. The people of Belarus elected Alexander Lukahenko into power in 1995 and he’s still the president 26 years later. Some viewers here pay attention to the news. And they know that the majority of Belarusians are angry enough at Lukashenko. And they’re protesting the ‘results’ of the recent election. This documentary depicts three out of those hundreds of thousands of people. One of them is actor and writer Pavel Haradnizky. He who works at the underground Belarus Free Theatre, bringing supplies during protests.

Courage‘s other two main subjects are Dzianis Tarasenka and Maryna Yakubovich, who work with Haradnizky in the theatre. The documentary’s choice to narrow down the protests within the perspective of these three subjects might divide some viewers. On the one hand, narrative simplicity is always a good thing. Besides, the average protester might have a lot to lose if they start talking to any camera they see. On the other hand, the crowd scenes can make some wonder why we’re not learning those stories. I want to know about those jailed protesters hugging those waiting for their freedom.

Although in fairness, these three make for good subjects, showing their awareness in their place within Belarusian history. Pavel talks about the police’s tactics in repressing protesters, and the camera captures the frustration in his face. There’s also some levity in knowing that he works in cars when he’s not working in theatre. It’s as if he fill his time this way since the government blacklisted him from working with other theatres. And all three know that they’re not the first nor the last free thinking Belarusians. Maryna’s monologue in the end shows this as well as unique, artistic way of freedom fighting.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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