Putin's Witnesses /
On December 31, 1999, when Boris Yeltsin suddenly announced his resignation from the Russian presidency, his successor Vladimir Putin was young and ambitious, but still mostly obscure. Director Vitaly Mansky (Under the Sun) was there to closely follow Putin and those around him. As head of documentaries at the Russian public television channel, he had unlimited access to the Kremlin’s upper echelon and spent a year documenting Putin, his supporters, and those left behind. This rare proximity to Putin (and Yeltsin) allowed Mansky to capture the Russian president’s complex machinations, as well as loaded, personal, vulnerable, and emotional moments, the likes of which have never been shown on-screen. After leaving his homeland, Mansky compiled his footage into a personal film with socio-political repercussions reaching far beyond the borders of Russia.