What’s Your POV about ‘Belarusian Waltz’?

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Belarus, one of the nations formed in 1991 from the breakup of the Soviet Union, is a strange and little-known country in a region of growing strategic importance, a country that’s been called “Europe’s last dictatorship.” In filmmaker Andrezj Fidyk’s Belarusian Waltz, one man — post-modern performance artist Alexander Pushkin — is determined to challenge dictator Alexander Lukashenko’s power through wheelbarrows of dung, mock patriotic displays and portraits of condemned Nazi collaborators.

Pushkin is determined to get Belarusians to talk about what is happening in their country. But if there’s one thing Belarusians seem to agree on, it’s that they should keep quiet about history, politics and culture — which makes Pushkin’s avant-garde street theater perhaps less of a challenge to the regime than a continuing irritant to Pushkin’s family, neighbors, old girlfriend (and mother of his child) and a series of nonplussed policemen and passersby.

While we see Pushkin fighting against the totalitarian system in Belarusian Waltz, we also seehis cruelty to his ex-girlfriend, and his abandonment of his daughter. Is it possible to reconcile the brave artist with the man who seems indifferent to the hurt he has caused to his ex-girlfriend and daughter?

Filmmaker Fidyk says “Pushkin is a complicated man. On the one hand, he is a hero, fighting for freedom in Belarus. On the other hand, he is not as good a person as everyone wants him to be…He has destroyed his former lover, and he doesn’t feel sorry for her at all. He never wanted to meet his daughter and acts like his daughter doesn’t exist. That scene reveals that as a man, he turned out to be a different person than he was as a political hero.”

Is Alexander Pushkin a hero or a cad? Were you surprised by this glimpse of contemporary Belarus? Do you think that performance art is an effective way to fight totalitarianism?

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.
  • http://www.aziomedia.com david

    FOREIGNID: 16839
    this is amazing.. thank you, thank you!

  • Bettylene W. Franzus

    FOREIGNID: 16840
    As the filmmaker has noted, Mr Pushkin is indeed not a simple personality. His determination to be loyal to his heritage is admirable but his treatment of a former lover is an indication of a typical male attitude which places women in a secondary level of worth and respect. He is therefore a product of his own society. In that respect, he is much like many males all over the world.

  • Greg

    FOREIGNID: 16841
    I enjoyed the film, but was amazed that (presumably) PBS blurred out not only the image of a woman’s breasts that Pushkin was painting, but the image of her breasts in the painting itself. If that’s self-censorship, I’m appalled. I’m appalled they have to be blurred out on the image of the real woman, but speechless that PBS fears the public might complain at the sight of breasts limned in charcoal. Makes me really embarrassed to be an American. Have some cahones, people! Don’t ask for a penny of my money until you find them.

  • http://agabrieleproductions.com Arthur Gabriele

    FOREIGNID: 16842
    One would think that there wouldn’t be such problems on this planet in the second millenium.
    You share the same problem as Tibet.
    Even here in the US, we are controlled by the International Bankers.
    The people need to connect and take control of the government.
    Join the Ron Paul Revolution.

  • Boris

    FOREIGNID: 16843
    The most ironic part is that, although Alexander Pushkin hates Russians, he is a namesake of the great Russian poet who lived in the 19th century. Which brings a different question – is he really Belorussian, since Pushkin is not a typical Belorussian family name?

  • Andrew

    FOREIGNID: 16844
    Pushkin looks like difficult person. I his personal characteristics I would agree with his former Russian mistress. But his political views very correctly describe the situation in Belarus and Belarusan way of thinking. Russian has been destroying Belarus for centuries. Nowadays they almost succeeded in wiping out Belarusan language and culture. However, I am pleased to see that resistance to the Russians still exist in Belarus. It gives me hope for the better future of this small country in the center of Europe.

  • Henry

    FOREIGNID: 16845
    Watched the program. The only positive character in the entire documentary is the guy washing himselfin the river.
    I have lived in that country for 23 years and have met different people (Russians and Byelorussians) who challenged the communist system back in 1980s. None of them ever thought of separating to Russians and Byelorussian. This guy is an idiot. I wonder who have come up with an idea of making a documentary about Byelorussian dissident and chose to portrait this guy. He is not even remotely representing the opposition to the Lukashenko regime. To be honest, if Pushkin was the real face of the opposition, I would feel that Byelorussians do deserve their present government. I even feel sorry for those cops that had to deal with him. He is a plain Nazi sympathizer, no better than our KKK or skinheads. The Lukashenko government just laughs at this moron and only wishes that the Byelorussian opposition would degrade to his level. He is no threat to the current regime, he is its insurance. I even think that the Lukashenko secret police new about filming of this documentary and quietly supported it, so people here would see what kind of low-life moron is trying to fight the widely respected and adored father of the Byelorussian people.
    This comment has been edited by the moderators for profanity.

  • TLO

    FOREIGNID: 16846
    Kind of reminds me of the USA. No Freedom of speech,government control of how people live.

  • Chris from Florida

    FOREIGNID: 16847
    …film looks like real but full of chaotic statements…well done from the other hand…
    …Alex Pushkin walking throughout the movie acting more and more as a schizophrenic and sick nationalist…I think he is really driven more by disease than ideology in his obssessive political behaviour…his father EVIDENTLY german collaborator – no excuses or explanations needed , just shame- He is WAR criminal by any definition… you cannot hurt Yushtchenko by presenting that kind of oposition…..

  • Olia Melnikava

    FOREIGNID: 16848
    I turned on the PBS channel and was so happy to hear Belarusian language and see the scenery of my homeland! By the end of the show I felt disappointed and angry. I was hoping he’d turn out a decent man, but there goes another fallen hero from Belarus… The guy has no morals as far as his relationship to his ex-girlfriend and his daughter. I feel a bit embarrassed that the world will see this odd person and think all Belarusians are like that.
    And, I don’t think he will be effective in fighting dictatorship, he might stir some thoughts in some people, but overall, I don’t think they will follow him, especially given his odd character and the fact that all “normal” people are too afraid to go against the government.

  • Mary E. Cotton

    FOREIGNID: 16849
    In the end it would seem that Pushkin, along with all who aspire to noble endeavors, is both heroic in his struggle to oppose the totalitarianism of his government, but less than noble in his personal relationships. While he shows tremendous courage in challenging Belarusians to speak out against the brutality Lukashenko’s authoritarianism, he seems less than sensative to both the feelings of his ex girlfriend (whom, despite his animosity towards Russians on the whole, didn’t have any qualms about “bedding down” with a Russian woman and impregnating her) but he married someone else. While I can admire his courage in using his art to speak out against his Neo-Stalinist government, he needn’t try to insult our intelligence by attempting to claim that he did his ex girlfriend a favor by impregnating her with his child! In summary, he was a man of both strong socio-political conscience and, on the other hand, also a man driven by the self interest of his libido. In short, he was just human human.

  • chill

    FOREIGNID: 16850
    What a film! I really enjoyed watching it. Pushkin definitely lives his life to his own drum beat and you know what, he is and will always be a Belarus icon who fought for the right of all Belarus people to live in THEIR country free of a dictatorship!

  • http://web.mac.com/heiwafilms Stephon Litwinczuk

    FOREIGNID: 16851
    My grandparents are from Belarus, so when I heard this program was going to be on PBS, I waited patiently (guess that’s in my blood) and am glad to have experienced the plight of Pushkin. As a filmmaker, myself, I really like the domesticated animal symbolism that Mr. Fidyk chose, which I wonder if it was planned or happened serendipitously.
    Personally, as a political activist/artist, I commend Pushkin or what he is doing, though the film doesn’t address too much of the politics except the pension plan that, from Elder Pushkin’s POV, is supposedly given by Lukashenko. This type of dumbing down of the society, with vodka stupor, especially the drunken man scene amidst the cheerful children, is similar to the consumerist society that I live in.
    I think the fact that Filmmaker Fidyk took the time to bring this story to the masses is a reflection on the effectiveness of performance art, though I’m not sure how many people watch PBS, at the same time it’s not like this film is connected to a larger cause of raising consciousness of the political regime in efforts to rise up my bloodlined relatives to live in a more democratic union. In that ambiguous statement lies my political naivete and idealism to think that the people of Belarus are not happy with the present conditions.
    It sure created a shift in me, emotionally, when Pushkin’s darker side came out with his pseudo-patriarchal dominance over his immigrant mistress and their unbelievably artistic daughter. At least that fine quality from Pushkin was passed to her, though who knows if the Mother is a better artist.
    As a Father of twins with a disconnected Father during the 1st 20 years of my life, of course I felt some rage towards Pushkin’s comments, that were quite irrational, at the end. I guess, as artists, we have strong dysfunctions in some areas and amazing talents in others. Still, the child should be celebrated and, unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the case with the child with the mistress nor the child with his present wife.
    My heart goes out to the people of Belarus and to all those living under despots. This film makes me want to learn more about White Russia though it seems tainted with a color that white only washes away like the national flag of Belarus and the language/culture that is stifled. Long live peace, freedom and democracy.

  • Katsumoto Hiromachi

    FOREIGNID: 16852
    If you could clarify if it is legal to use a profanity when documentory was filmed by using a foreign language and streaming it on PBS?Thanks K.Hiromachi (Belorussian Waltz)

  • Marina Lovett

    FOREIGNID: 16853
    I just have watched documentary about this man.How horrible!He tries to be a hero,but looks like a teenager who suffers from attention deficit.Absolutely not mature,playing for the public.
    I do not agree with him and that is why-glorifying his fathers collaboration with Nazis during the second world war is a big “no-no” in Belarus,Ukraine,and Russia.
    For those who did not study history at school i can explain-Nazis occupied Belarus,Ukraine and Russia and because all these nations belong to the same Slavic ethnic group,they were equally and savagely exterminated as Hitler’s plan to eradicate Slaves as ethnic group.People in Belarus suffered greatly during the second world war and those veterans shown in documentary were honored not as communist supporters,but as true heroes and veterans of the WWII.The documentary did not show that.Communists are not popular anymore neither in Belarus,nor in Ukraine,nor in Russia.There are some “leftovers” still in Belarus,Ukraine and Russia,but in comparison with the rest of population it is like a drop in an ocean.I f there are some people in the USA who support KKK,does not mean the whole nation is like that.Agreed?
    Also he has been arrested many times,but was freed.Just like he said”he helps Lukashenko to support democracy” and freedom of speech (and freedom of expressing himself in art-nobody took his pictures away from him).So he can’t totally complain about being “a martyr”.
    And what about his nationalistic remark to the woman who he had affair with-’”this is not your land”,although she lived there for many years.That puts him in the same rank with other prejudiced people who should be shame for any nation,because prejudice and racism are ugly,even people try present it as an utter patriotism.I tend to agree with his “dumped” woman-she was just another performance for him,and a very cruel one-he ruined not only her life,but also put seeds of resentment into his daughter’s heart.What would she remember most of it?That her dad rejected her mother and her because they are Russians.That is not a heroic dead.Also it gives you an idea that you will not be welcome to live with Pushkin in Belarus,because it is not your land.One can be very patriotic and at the same time wise and embracing people who belong to other nationalities -America,Canada,Australia and other European countries are good examples for him,if he “is looking to the West”.
    And “hitting” on another woman is disgusting,though he tries to present it as cultural tradition.That does not tip scales to his side either.Plus his wife looks very suppressed to me.That gives another speculation that he could be a domestic tyrant.So the total picture of a hero is not good.

  • http://www.dzicinstva.net Halina

    FOREIGNID: 16854
    I am from Belarus. This movie is more or less appropriate to show Ales Pushkin (not the best job, that could be done on this man, see below). Pushkin is scandalous, everybody knows it! But this movie is nothing to show the real situation and oposition in Belarus. All the time we with my hubby kept saying “what would Americans think about Belarus after such a film!!!” It is like to show the poorest neighborhood and a crazy man from the Bronx in order to present all the USA!!!
    The film confirms again, that no matter how talented one is – the human fame will choose a scandalous and crazy one!
    There are many talented artists in Belarus, many of them are in the opposition to the dictator and lost jobs, have to survive and work in an unbelievable conditions.. To name a few websites:
    I personally think, that Pushkin is still free, because of his craziness and fascism – such man does more evil, than good for Belarus. May be that is why the KGB let the polish group to make this film with no problems whatsoever.
    The film does not even show Pushkin’s probably most famous and funny project: in the beginning, when he was unknown, he was hired to paint the ceiling and walls of an Russian orthodox church. Well, he did everything beautifully and the face of dictator Lukashenko appears in the Hell part as a face of a devil. When the people noticed it , it was too late to redo it. The Russian orthodox church supports Russian occupation of Belarus, Georgia and other countries and supports the puppet regime of Lukashenko – that was probably the first huge scandal by Pushkin. Also I have not learnt anything about his biography and life from such a long film, mostly it was boring and sickening.
    The movie does not show at all the struggle in Belarus. Nobody knows how many peole are now in the oposition to the dictator now. No one can calculate, all the independent pools are destroyed and people are punished, foreigners for overseeing are not aloud. During the elections no one counts the votes. Even Belarusians are not aloud to be present at counting of the votes when an election is going on, it is totally “work” of some appointed by the regime people, who make calculations on calculators. It looks like in the big cities the majority is against Lukashenko, but they are not organized, there is even no
    My father was in an independent party and once was beated unmercifully by KGB, after that his health became weak and after some years he died. This is how KGB now is working on people, who disagree. they do not do disappearing anymore, just help to die, so that people die in hospitals. Many of my friends had to be in prison. This is such a tragedy!! Many people are scared to say a word against Lukahsenko, for they may loose everything. Television, papers, radio is all in the government hands and it is telling unspeakable lies, so people are disoriented, there is no source to teach people or even simply tell THE TRUTH. The phone conversation are being listened too. Internet is accessible only to 10% of the people and Lukashenko is speaking about controlling it too.
    Mr. Fidyk – very primitive work of yours!
    Channel 13, why don’t you show some better and more informative documentary about Belarus, f.e. “Ploscha” (Square) by YURY HASCHEVATSKI !!! or you are just attracted by a scandal too?!

  • Janka

    FOREIGNID: 16855
    My mother was born in Grodno (Poland) which is now claimed by Bielarus. My brother and I who are in our 70′s decided to visit her village last year but canccelled our trip after hearing about the political situation.
    Therefore I was most anxious to see the POV film. The people were depicted as unsympathetic, the drunken man (and horse?) supplemented the perception that life is hopeless. Pushkin seems to be an adolescent who uses his “career” as artist to justify his carousing and defense of fascism. Too much ego…
    I still would like to see my mother’s village and perhaps meet her relatives but this portrayal only confirmed the warnings we heard.

  • Natalia

    FOREIGNID: 16856
    I am Russian, and my point of view and experiences would be probably drastically different from some of yours, but I have the right to speak out. I watched the movie and was so disappointed with PBS and with the Polish director (you need to understand the relations between Poland and Belarus to interpret the movie – to some extent at least) because it affects me personally. As some of you wrote, what would Americans think of the country and it people after watching this movie? What was the purpose of the movie?
    I think the movie basically says: it is ok to be a skinhead, a kkk member, or a nazi as long as you are against Lukashenko. The movie also says: Belorussians are jingoists (because of the veterans) and also unfriendly, brainwashed, promiscuous people who are scared to death of Lukashenko and cannot speak out. Was that the purpose of the movie? I still do not get it!
    My experience with Belarus may be different from yours. I have my own biases I guess. My sister is Russian, and she got married to a wonderful Belorussian man, and they have three children together. I travel to Belarus rather frequently. There is no border between the two countries. As all countries of the former Soviet Union, Belarus struggles, and there are problems with drinking (even more so in Russia, or in Ukraine). But people survive, and they hope for the best. It takes a lot of hope, effort, persistence, and hard work. Belorussians are very hospitable people. And they do have access to the Internet. The internet cafes are all over the country.
    My sister comes to visit my parents to Russia once a year, and she compares the two counties. She tells me that she likes Belarus better. She says that there is more order in how agencies and organizations work (less bureaucracy), they control drinking in the factories and plants and fire people who miss work (the management is very strict). The government offers loans to young families to buy apartments (Russia does not do that). They build new schools with nice computer labs and swimming pools). Their libraries and librarians are better supported than in Russia. They have a lot of cultural events, and, of course, they cherish their veterans. The country was burned and deeply wounded during the WWII. Hatyn’ is some of the most famous places that I think everybody has to visit to remember the sad historic past.
    I visited Belarus with my American boyfriend a couple of years ago, and he got his visa quicker than the Russian one – no questions asked. We did not have any problems. Minks is a beautiful and clean city. The people are extremely polite, and the food was great.
    My questions to PBS:
    Why wouldn’t the channel show this side of the country and its people? It has never been done before. I think as a public station that promotes education and a cultural dialog, PBS needs to show a balanced picture for the viewers UNLESS the goal of showing this particular movie was to build borders and put people on the opposite sides of the continuum.

  • Eileen

    FOREIGNID: 16857
    I, too, was greatly disappointed in the documentary, for almost all the resons already noted in the previous comments. I am American of “White Russian” (Jewish)” background as my grandfather called it. Puskin is no threat because he is an ineffectual narcissist–although not a bad painter. I wish that POV had shown a documentary about the true socio/ecomomic/political situation in Belarus and genuine reformers working to bring their country to self-empowerment. For those of you concerned about how we Americans might have generalized the “characterizations to the people as a whole” l think that’s not a worry because it was on PBS. I heard a wry remark today on CNN that once Americans realized that Georgia vs/ Russia conflict wasn’t happening in Altanta, they quickly lost interest…Anyway, looking forward to viewing SUBSTANTIVE/STYLISH documentaries of the countries of the former Soviet Bloc by their writer/filmakers.

  • Dimitri

    FOREIGNID: 16858
    I have watched the documentary through the prism of the main protagonist’s partially-chronicled psychopathology splattered against the backdrop of his country’s condition…lack of empathy for others……essentially, using/manipulating people around him…attention/fame seeking via scandalizing others…inability to sustain meaningful and equitable relationships (his wife does look emotionally battered and intimidated)….the sense of specialness….absolutely monumental sense of arrogance….need for admiration. Alex is more than likely to be personality disordered. Nearly textbook quality portrayal of a narcissist.

  • Phil

    FOREIGNID: 16859
    At first I found Pushkin to be a sympathetic figure. I thought the guy was brave to stand up to a tyrant. But as the movie unfolds you find that it’s not so simple. He paints portraits of Belarusians who worked for the Nazis in WWII calling them heros… hmmm… Then you find out that when his daughter was 9 she invited her father, Pushkin, to her art show and he refused to attend. He never felt any need to apologize to her mother for the position he put her in (by getting her pregnant) and he claims he doesn’t need to because she’s Russian and doesn’t belong there. And what was with that ending? Wife swapping?! By the end I was pretty convinced that he was either a jerk or a nutcase.

  • Pam

    FOREIGNID: 16860
    I am shocked at his response to his ex lover who had his child. He was not at all sorry or ashamed. He seemed to offer reverse bias as an excuse!!!! I feel he is disrespectful to his present wife and baby. He did not seem to acknowledge them in any affectionate manner and made an appointment to meet his ex lover right in front of her! I fear he uses his rebellion against Russia as a way to get attention. The police there do not even seem to take him serious or he would be dead. I think his behavior towards women and children causes him to lose credibility. I hope not all men are like this toward their women and children in his country. I am not a feminist at all, but it seemed the women wait on him hand and foot especially at his ex lovers home! His 13 year old daughter looked so uncomforable and pitiful. How unfair!

  • Svetlana

    FOREIGNID: 16861
    I was born and grew up in Belarus. It is a beautiful country!
    After watching this movie I was very disappointed.. My dearest home country where my family and friends live were covered with dirt. We all know that because of Belarusian President we don’t really have freedom of speech. However, surprisingly, majority of the Belarusians do not mind. The issues about the national flag, symbol and language are very painful for me and for many other Belarusians as well.
    The main “hero of the movie”Alexander Pushkin is not typical Belarusian fellow. I do not want American people to imply that all of the Belarusians are the same. They are NOT. He looks like he has been drinking A LOT. His Belarusian language—believe me HE CAN BARELY SPEAK BELARUSIAN Besides, about his personal issues with his ex wife— there is NOTHING to be proud of. We DO NOT treat Russian people like that—but he does. Russian people are very close to us because we all used to be USSR. I also was ashamed, as a Belarusian citizen, when I saw an elderly man doing his “personal hygiene” in a river and– naked women.excuse me, but no comments What was the purpose of the movie?
    I was very disappointed that such a respectful channel as PBS even showed this movie. Belarus has a very reach history and culture. People in my home country are very nice and kind. Just do some research.
    P.S. I wish that translation from Belarusian to English in this movie were better.

  • Heinz B

    FOREIGNID: 16862
    Life is a puzzlement'.[The King & I ]
    Pushkin is a
    puzzlement and bizzar’.
    The film: absolutely great.
    I would like to know when the filming took place, the dates.

  • Robert Fuzesi

    FOREIGNID: 16863
    I was fascinated by this piece.
    We were told right off by the producer, that Lushenko was a Dictator. I assume that we should take Mr. Fidyyk’s ‘unbiased’ opinion for fact, since we ‘know’ that the corporate press in the West is ‘free’. So, how could we doubt anything that he or any other memeber of the ‘free’ press say?
    Well, who financed Mr. Fidyk?. Who made sure that Western audiences who have no other inkling of life in Belarus, would get only the view approved by the Central Committee of the Capitalist Party presented to them?
    While I loathed everything about the psychopathic rampblings and provocative actions of this so-called ‘artist’ –Pushkin, whose etchings were as talented as a child of four on a bad day at the kindergarden arts and crafts’ class; ….I also envied him.
    This ‘Beacon of Freedom’, this ‘Freedom Fighter for Democracy’ who is obviously supported and maintained by the taxpayers of the United States through genereous contributions channeled through various ‘channels’ set up by the ‘Free’ West, has nothing to fear. He, –but not the citizens of the US– can be assured that his pension is not only going to be paid by Lushenko, but by us — the US taxpayers, as well.
    The fact that pension of millions of workers in the US are not going to honored, and that the conservatives and Republicans would even love to steal the meager Social Security benefis in this country, are not going to affect the standard of living of this ‘flagbearer of freedom’.
    Now, let us examine how a psychopath fares sin this country, as opposed to Belarus, -since here-, the US government does not comes to their aid.
    People like Pushkin, as opposed to being glorified, generally end up tossed to the mean streets of America like animals, and end their lives totally deprived of any human right s or dignity. If a ‘nobody’ like Pushkin tried to do in the US what that psycho does in Belarus, he would be disposed of one, two, three, –no questions and/or traces would be left.
    One thing I will grant. The psychologically traumatized are prone to see injustices more keenly that any society posseses.
    The difference is that in a ‘Dictatorship’ like Belarus he seems to be tolerated and even thrive. On the other hand were he living here in this ‘free’ society— he would end up finished off in the gutter as another nameless, unfortunate homeless –nobody.

  • Josephina Albertina

    FOREIGNID: 16864
    ” even think that the Lukashenko secret police knew about filming of this documentary and quietly supported it, so people here would see what kind of low-life moron is trying to fight the widely respected and adored father of the Byelorussian people.” (excelent comment! by Henry see above), one could never find respect for this low-life, he just clown!

  • Josephina Albertina

    FOREIGNID: 16865
    ” even think that the Lukashenko secret police knew about filming of this documentary and quietly supported it, so people here would see what kind of low-life moron is trying to fight the widely respected and adored father of the Byelorussian people.” (excelent comment! by Henry see above), one could never find respect for this low-life, he just a clown!

  • rupert

    FOREIGNID: 16866
    I was wondering if anyone knows who the woman singer (and song) is at the graveyard scene with the soldier falling down in the background?

  • Richard Pearson

    FOREIGNID: 16867
    I think our pro-Byelorusian friends are missing the point here… Pushkin is not being honoured as some type of freedom loving patriot saviour by the Polish film direction. In our friends’ “dialectic”, one must be either portrayed as absolute saviour or treacherous lap-dog of the much hated “West”. Pushkin is neither… In a totalitarian regime, Pushkin’s rebellion is equated with something akin to a mental illness…

  • meleon

    FOREIGNID: 16868
    In a nutshell (pun intended), the guy is the picture you see when you search for the meanings of words like:
    He’s really a misoginistic buffoon masquerading as a freedom fighter through his art patriot.

  • Natasha

    FOREIGNID: 16869
    I thought it was a good film. Pushkin seems to be a flawed individual as we all are. After reading the posts it seems that the film was biased and should be balanced with another show that would show the other side.

  • Terry Fisher

    FOREIGNID: 16870
    The director explained at the end of the film that he liked going to relatively unknown places in the world, and to find a “hero” to explore these areas. Pushkin as a hero? Again, the director explained the dark sides of this man were brought out very clearly in his callous disregard for his daughter and ex-lover. I also found his treatment of his family members very cold and self-absorbed. Many “Artists” I’ve known tend to have this personality trait….
    That aside..I so enjoyed the film. It makes me want to know more about that area, Thanks to the person who gave other sites to find information about this unique country.
    unique country.

  • Michael J.

    FOREIGNID: 16871
    POV is POV, so I am not going to discuss what I liked and did not like in the film and in the main character (he is a nationalistic egomaniac, but makes a good character for a film as normal people are of no interest). It was interesting to watch.
    What really turned me off and ruined the whole experience is blurring woman’s breasts, even on a painting. I fully agree with what Greg said above: PBS self-censorship is appalling. Have you not seen female breasts, people? All of you (well, not all, but most of you I presume) were fed with them. After all if you felt the breasts were offensive (how can they be offensive it absolutely beyond my comprehension) you could just cut out part of the video so we the viewers would never know about your pitiful self-censorship.
    I wanted to become a member of PBS and contribute my money for the public good, but after watching this film I changed my mind. You should feel embarrassed.

  • Tino

    FOREIGNID: 16872
    I liked this mostly because it portrayed such an odd person. I don’t think any one watching this thought it captured the “typical” Belorussian – I mean c’mon…this guy was very, very weird. That’s what made him interesting. Obviously the film and Mr. Pushkin did not represent any sort of real political dissent/opposition.
    As soon as I saw the “drunken parade” at the beginning of the film, along with the bottles of 60th anniversary vodka, I knew this would be a tongue-in cheek film. I didn’t know much about this nation, and if anything, this film made me look into real Belorussian political activists, and that nation’s long and tortured relationships with Russia and Poland. One thing that bugs me; why does almost everyone, whenever I read comments from people trying to show the “bad” side of the USA, use the BRONX as an example? The Bronx is a perfectly nice part of New York City. No worse than Brooklyn or Queens! Please, people, if ya wanna pick on the “States” choose…Alabama or Arkansas – some place other than the freakin’ Bronx!
    And BTW, if Pushkin had provoked the cops here in the “FREE” USA, like he did in Minsk, he might have been shot, repeatedly, with most-likely NO consequences for the police thugs, as happens all too frequently, here in the Fascist States of AmeriKKKa.


    FOREIGNID: 16873
    The film was an interesting study of one complicated individual, but left me with only one lasting thought: Where can I buy the art of Ania Pushkin, his Russian daughter? His art is good, and charming, but hers has an amazing depth, and how old was she? 13? This is an artisitic force to be reckoned with.

  • Nancy

    FOREIGNID: 16874
    You can sum it up with one phrase when speaking of the people of Belarus.
    “No one seems to ever smile.”

  • Penelope A. Timbers

    FOREIGNID: 16875
    I just caught a short segment of the end of the POV on the Belarus painter/activist. I was rooted to the spot and could not move. What a fascinating piece of work! Thank you, thank you for this excellent piece of film about an interesting individual. I really enjoy watching POV. Wish I’d seen the entire documentary.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nb5oLx-XE5U russian in America

    FOREIGNID: 16876
    to rupert and anyone interested:
    The song is from a well-known Soviet film Belorusskiy vokzal (or Byelorussia Station, 1970) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0128960/
    You can watch a movie clip with the song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nb5oLx-XE5U
    (click More info for lyrics in cyrillic)
    The song is sung by actress Nina Urgant from the above film which is about several WWII veterans and has no relevance to Belorussia. The movie title refers to Belorussian railway station in Moscow where these veterans had last seen each other in 1945 after the end of the war. The film shows their reunion at the funeral of their war-time comrade 25 years later.

  • belorussian in America

    FOREIGNID: 16877
    If this “belorussian” chose to speak Belorussian, he should have learned it better. Very often he just simply speaks Russian with Belorussian accent.

  • http://www.myspace.com/baobobtreepress caroline

    FOREIGNID: 16878
    this film was a powerhouse–jesus I got totally sucked in and fascinated. I got some real Eastern European nostalgia going. As I read some of the comments here I see strong reactions against Pushkin and his politics and it made me really spiral think about how my first impression of him was pretty favorable–he’s an artist–he’s kind of funny, obviously he likes to express himself, he’s obnoxious and a womanizer, so what? Then the conversation with Ania’s mother and man–that was raw and awesome. He really didn’t come out of that looking like a hero by any means…but somehow I’m still sympathetic. Neo-fascism aside, I thought it was a great look at the guy and his environment–the weirdness of everything when it’s so personal.
    “We’re at the table and I killed a pike while the river flooded and Janka killed and cooked it and we’re drinking wine and filming…”
    so good. na zdrowie
    and also:
    “an artist can live poorly in a hut, but he still needs to have room to put up a 3 meter canvas and then step back 8 meters to look at it”

  • Peter

    FOREIGNID: 16879
    A fascinating film. I stumbled upon this while channel surfing and I’m delighted
    PBS/POV chose to televise a film about the complex and tragic situation in Belarus. Many of the commentators here are appalled by Pushkin’s personal failures but they make the film all the more compelling. The scene between Pushkin and his former Russian mistress was disturbing yet very powerful. That hackneyed phrase “the personal is the political” really rings true in this case!
    I also suspect many viewers may also dismiss the future prospects of the Belarusian language and culture, in no small part due to the political passivity of the population and the “idiocy of rural life” which is so thoroughly portrayed in the film. But history continually surprises us. Neighboring Ukraine also nearly lost its native language and culture due to centuries of Russian/Soviet oppression. And yet today it is experiencing a national revival.
    And one last comment. The blurring of breasts by PBS in some odd attempt to protect viewers from the human body is just ridiculous.

  • Gerri T. Michalska

    FOREIGNID: 16880
    This film shows how oxymoronic this flawed and sometimes heroic human is. Extolling those who collaborate with the Nazis is lacking morality. A man who takes sex so lightly that he takes advantage of one woman and moves on to the next with no compunction. More amoral behaviour. Yes, there is the narcissist and immature egotist there.
    The film shows this complex and contradictory human who has not mastered his ego but it does give insights into the thinking of those living in the last dictatorship in Europe. A whole bunch of contradictions, both sides were shown.