2008 POV Preview: ‘Belarusian Waltz’

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On August 12th, POV will broadcast Belarusian Waltz by Andrzej Fidyk. The film features an idiosyncratic man named Alexander Pushkin, who shares a name with the great Russian Romantic poet, but turns out to be a different breed of artist altogether.

Belarus has been called “Europe’s last dictatorship.” Since 1994, Alexander Lukashenko has ruled the ex-Soviet republic with a despotic hand, jailing the opposition, shutting down the press and refusing to investigate the assassinations of dissidents. He has virtually silenced his critics — but not one lone performance artist who stages public stunts mocking the dictator’s pretensions. Belarusian Waltz is the story of Alexander Pushkin, whose audacious, comical exploits find him facing the hostility of the police and the consternation of his family. An offbeat tale of post-modern street theater meeting 1930s-style authoritarianism, the film offers a surprising window into the soul of the Belarusian people.

Watch the trailer:

For more previews of 2008 POV films, check out our TV Schedule.

Ruiyan Xu
Ruiyan Xu
Former POVer Ruiyan Xu worked on developing and producing materials for POV's website. Before coming to POV, she worked in the Interactive and Broadband department at Channel Thirteen/WNET. Ruiyan was born in Shanghai and graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Modern Culture and Media.
  • victor

    FOREIGNID: 15638
    the film maker and the subject are more brave then wnet i’m sure even in belarus would have shown this without censuring the naked bodies at the end film. pbs and wnet are just as afraid as the people in the film. pbs an wnet are victims of the bush right wing, christian, conservative adminstration who are eroding all our freedoms. ware we not both(countries) not in a dictatorship?

  • judi davis

    FOREIGNID: 15639
    i found it difficult to believe that pushkin’s political protest is sincere since he is portrayed as such a self-absorbed and self-important creature, his performance art protests seem just more self-promotion. i realize that those we would like to revere are too often flawed humans, but this man’s self-aggrandizement overwhelms any political message he sends. and he’s so proud of his wife’s noble heritage and of his former lover’s residence in a place with fancy cars. i didn’t understand his argument that wwii german collaboration by some belarusians was somehow done to protest soviet rule. but i suspect that the man would be satisfied if his country were controlled by tcarist russia rather than the rabble commies. as an insight into a place and a man, the film was fascinating. if it’s purpose had a political agenda to support the protest of pushkin and his desire for an independent belarusus i think it failed. i guess i just don’t get what the filmmaker’s point of view is.

  • Virgil

    FOREIGNID: 15640
    I enjoyed and was intrigued by this film. The director did a great job of exposing many universal themes impacting our globe. His ability to capture these emotionally intimate themes a gift. I watched the film twice.
    Facinating that totalitarian regimes still exist and are obviously tolerated and accepted by their subjects. Pardon my American naivete. I suppose my own noose has still not yet been removed!
    The retorts Pushkin makes about why he does not apologize to his former Russion girlfriend because she is Russian are misguided. Pushkin is a fillanderer and opportunist. Yet, so is the girlfriend. She was as much a party to their child as he. Pushkin, at least, is open and honest about his contribution while she attempts to portray her victimization….once again, the manipulation of an intelligent woman lacking moral fibre gets exposed. To lay sole blame on Pushkin is the folly and risk of intercourse out of moral and/or legal wedlock. But, she knows and accepts this, at least internally despite her speeches to the contrary.
    I agree with the earlier comment regarding Pushkin’s selfishness and self-absorbtion. His only authentic message in the film. Narcissists do not require forgiveness themselves…who is worthy to grant it? Extraordinary.
    While this may be a factor of how the film was editted, I found it intriguing that Pushkin’s return from the barracade after his street performance arrest was followed immediately by scenes exposing his interest in the tradition of Kupola Night, one night during the year where adultery is permitted….all fitting neatly into the historical folk traditions of Belarus…how convenient for Pushkin. He feeds his narcissism through furthering his nationlist cause in the form of suggested orgy performance. Negative impacts to his young wife and small child regarding his arrest, his abscense from the family and concerns it causes, and his plans for a night of adultery are filmed, yet no response from the film’s hero is visible….or is the correct term villian? and…how smug are we to judge?
    At least the degradation of moral and traditional family values appears to be an international phenomenon…..misery loves company!
    Regards all,