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SXSW: Documentary Traces Russian Feminist Punks' Trials

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer filmmakers

After winning an award at the Sundance Film Festival this January, “Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer” has wowed audiences at South by Southwest.

The documentary tells the incredible story of three young performance artists: Nadia, Masha and Katia, members of Russian feminist art collective Pussy Riot. 

The band members made global headlines following their arrest for their 40 second performance of a "punk prayer" inside Russia's main cathedral in February 2012. Charges of religious hatred led to a criminal trial. While Katia was released, Nadia and Masha are now serving two years in prison.

Director Maxim Pozdorovkin and producer Mike Lerner filmed the punk provocateurs from March to October 2012, skillfully blending Pussy Riot rehearsals and early performances, official Kremlin film footage of President Vladimir Putin, and court proceedings and interviews with the girls' families. Though denied direct access to Nadia, Masha and Katia, the filmmakers created a rich representation of their plight. A "Free Pussy Riot" campaign has gone global, and just last week, Miss Russia spoke outin the girls’ defense.

For KUT, Cathy Byrd talks to the filmmakers about what compelled them to take on the project, how the trial transformed the face of Russian society and why Pussy Riot has come to represent the international resurgence of radical feminism.

“Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer” screens again tonight, Thursday, March 14, 7:15 p.m. at the Paramount Theater.

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