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TOPIC: navalny documentary

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Oscar for Navalny? The World Still Doesn’t Understand What’s Wrong With Russia

The Oscar for best documentary went to the portrait of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, considered Vladimir Putin’s top domestic rival. If it was meant as a gesture of solidarity with Ukraine, Hollywood has badly missed the mark.


The Oscar awarded Sunday to “Navalny,” the documentary about Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was not much of a surprise. As a storyline, it follows all the laws of Hollywood: a courageous hero, an absolute villain, a love story, oppressed peoples — and a sequel. It also, of course, allows the movie industry to collectively and very publicly declare its strong stance against Vladimir Putin and his invasion of Ukraine.

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But if Hollywood thought this Oscar would be well-received in Ukraine, they got hold of the wrong script.

Assigning this highest honor of Western culture to Navalny is instead a reminder of how much is still misunderstood about Russia — and what must be done about its invasion of Ukraine.

Sure, Putin’s No. 1 domestic rival plays his role perfectly: Navalny is a caring father, a loving husband, a brave man, an honest politician. The film evokes all the right emotions: sympathy and admiration for the protagonist and regret for the country's plight and its citizens, who, like Navalny, have become figurative and literal prisoners of a regime.

And so the Kremlin’s victim par excellence receives an Oscar against the backdrop of a bloody war that Putin launched in Ukraine over a year ago. Yet Hollywood has, as it is prone to do, not gone beyond the surface — has not done its research.

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