Belarusian documentary “Courage” sold to Arte for Germany and France – The Hollywood Reporter

Courage, Aliaksei Paluyan’s critically acclaimed documentary on the Belarusian protest movement, was acquired by the European Arte network for France and Germany ahead of the film’s screening at the Amsterdam International Documentary Festival (IDFA). Arte plans to release the film in early 2022.

The vision of events on the Paluyan field follows three members of an underground and illegal theater group as they join their compatriots in resisting President Alexander Lukashenko’s 26-year dictatorship. After a contested election, thousands of people take to the streets to demand the president’s resignation. Hopes for change in what is often called “Europe’s last dictatorship” were dashed when Lukashenko violently cracked down on protesters. The documentary theater actors now live in exile outside the country.

Lukashenko’s crackdown has heightened tensions with Western governments in Europe and the United States, which do not recognize him as Belarus’s rightful leader. In May this year, Belarus ordered a Ryanair flight over its airspace carrying opposition journalist Roman Protasevich to force-land at Minsk International Airport. Protasevich was arrested and officials later released a video in which Protasevich “confessed” to organizing mass unrest in the country. Her family said they believed the confession was forced and made under duress.

More recently, Lukashenko found himself in an impasse with the European Union over a self-generated migration crisis. Since the start of summer 2021, Belarus has been bringing refugees from the Middle East by plane and encouraging them to cross the border to Poland. Most are stranded in the woods along the border, facing Polish security forces watching them from behind a wire fence.

Courage premiered at the Berlin Film Festival this year and made its US debut at LA’s Laemmle theaters earlier this month. Given the subject matter, the film is considered a potential dark horse for the Oscar race in the documentary category. Rise and Shine manages worldwide sales.

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