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RFE/RL Taps New Voices Through Documentary Film

RFE/RL Russian Service "Young and Free" documentary contest, Current Time "Real Kino" logos
RFE/RL Russian Service "Young and Free" documentary contest, Current Time "Real Kino" logos

WASHINGTON – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is expanding the ways it tells stories and connects with audiences through two new projects that tap into the power of documentary film.

RFE/RL’s Russian Service launched the “Young and Free” film competition this fall to capture the energy of young people – in particular, members of the post-millennial “Generation Z” -- who turned out in surprising numbers this spring to protest corruption in Russia.

“We produce dozens of our own documentaries, many of them award-winning,” said Russian Service Director Andrey Shary, “but we wanted a documentary film contest for professionals and amateurs, no one older than 30, to attract new masters and audiences, and to get a better feel for the country’s pulse.”

The contest received 42 submissions, each exploring the experience of real people in contemporary, documentary language. Two films, “A Boy Who…,” by Аsya Sloyenaya, and “Liza in the City,” by Kostya Tishshe, shared the 100,000 ruble prize, and will be shown on the Russian Service’s website and YouTube channel starting this weekend.

The Current Time TV and digital network expanded its documentary footprint by partnering this October with the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival, the Czech Republic's preeminent showcase for documentary films from Central and Eastern Europe. Current Time participated in the festival’s jury for mid-length films, and awarded a $10,000 prize to “Opera About Poland,” the winner in the festival’s “Between the Seas” category. The film will be shown as part of “Real Cinema,” Current Time’s Russian-language documentary series, which screens online and on satellite and cable in 15 countries, including Russia and Ukraine. Current Time premieres 100 new documentaries a year, including films that are blocked from mainstream distribution in Russia because of political content.

Said Current Time Executive Editor for Feature Programming Kenan Aliyev, “Current Time is about telling real stories about real people. Collaborating with the Ji.hlava festival lets us encourage and enable some of the most talented and powerful independent voices in the region so they can tell the most important stories themselves.”

RFE/RL’s Russian Service, known locally as Radio Svoboda, is the leading international broadcaster in Russia, providing a crucial forum for the free exchange of information and ideas.

Current Time TV and digital network, run by RFE/RL in cooperation with the Voice of America (VOA), provides Russian-speaking audiences with a fresh, independent, 24/7 alternative to Kremlin-sponsored media.