Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer airs at Sundance Film Festival

Posted on November 14, 2013

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Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer airs at Sundance Film Festival

A supporter of a female Russian punk band holds a photo of a band while he and others picket the police headquarters in Moscow on March 8, 2012. Two members of Russian female punk band Pussy Riot vowed to go on a hunger strike after they were detained until the end of April for trying to perform in a Moscow church. Pussy Riot, a radical protest group that performs in colourful dresses and balaclavas, last month climbed onto the altar of a church in central Moscow and sang a few words before being grabbed by security guards.  AFP PHOTO / ANDREY SMIRNOV (Photo credit should read ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/Getty Images)

A supporter of a female Russian punk band holds a photo of a band while he and others picket the police headquarters in Moscow on March 8, 2012. Two members of Russian female punk band Pussy Riot vowed to go on a hunger strike after they were detained until the end of April for trying to perform in a Moscow church. Pussy Riot, a radical protest group that performs in colourful dresses and balaclavas, last month climbed onto the altar of a church in central Moscow and sang a few words before being grabbed by security guards.
AFP PHOTO / ANDREY SMIRNOV (Photo credit should read ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/Getty Images)

By Rachael Mattice

A supporter of a female Russian punk band holds a photo of a band while he and others picket the police headquarters in Moscow on March 8, 2012. Two members of Russian female punk band

Pussy Riot vowed to go on a hunger strike after they were detained until the end of April for trying to perform in a Moscow church. Pussy Riot, a radical protest group that performs in colourful dresses and balaclavas, last month climbed onto the altar of a church in central Moscow and sang a few words before being grabbed by security guards.

Picture taken on August 8, 2012 shows volunteers during the shooting of a music video in Berlin. Canadian electro-punk performance artist Peaches aka Merrill Nisker said on August 9, 2012 she will put out an online protest video next week for Russian feminist band Pussy Riot, who face years behind bars for a church demonstration against President Vladimir Putin. Peaches told AFP that she and fellow musician Simonne Jones gathered around 400 people decked out in the Russian band's trademark colourful balaclavas at a Berlin park to film a video for the new song "Free Pussy Riot".           (FIONA GARDEN/AFP/GettyImages)

Picture taken on August 8, 2012 shows volunteers during the shooting of a music video in Berlin. Canadian electro-punk performance artist Peaches aka Merrill Nisker said on August 9, 2012 she will put out an online protest video next week for Russian feminist band Pussy Riot, who face years behind bars for a church demonstration against President Vladimir Putin. Peaches told AFP that she and fellow musician Simonne Jones gathered around 400 people decked out in the Russian band’s trademark colourful balaclavas at a Berlin park to film a video for the new song “Free Pussy Riot”. (FIONA GARDEN/AFP/GettyImages)

Global protests and uproar ensued after the Russian all girl punkband Pussy Riot was arrested after performing “Mother Mary, Banish Putin!” in Moscow’s most respected cathedral in winter 2011.

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s current president, was reelected after assumed controversy and ignited a national citizen challenge of the legitimacy of his rule. The young members of Pussy Riot were among the few that were daring enough to make an even more radical statement of opposition.

With three members initially jailed following the statement, one member, Ekaterina Samutsevich was released on probation on the precedent that she did not actually partake in the incident since authorities removed Samutsvich from the church premises before she could engage in the ‘punk prayer.’

Now, two members of Pussy Riot remain imprisoned, Nadezhda Tolonnikova and Maria Alekhina, for two years. They have reported harsh prison conditions, but ‘no regrets’ in an interview published by the Associated Press.

A year later, British filmmaker Mike Lerner and Russian Maxim Pozdorovkin collaborated on a project titled “Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer” to document the rippling effects of the protest and how it became an international story of abuse on human rights. Adding input from the imprisoned members themselves, the documentary film will be premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah Jan.17 through the 27.

Pussy Riot (Associated Press)

Pussy Riot (Associated Press)

Mattice is a producer and music journalist for the Journal & Courier. She can be reached at rmattice@jconline.com or on Twitter @RachaelM_JC.

Posted in: J & C Blog