August 2015, a courtroom in Rostov-on-Don. A man is peering through the bars of his cage, his eyes reveal that his nerves are about to snap. Today he will be handed down a sentence to which he must submit: 20 years’ imprisonment in Siberia for terrorism. The man is Oleg Sentsov, a film director and Maidan activist born in Simferopol in the Ukraine. He is charged with leading an anti-Russian terrorist movement and having planned attacks on bridges, power lines and a monument of Lenin. Sentsov defends himself, courageously and without flinching. He responds to the verdict with an emphatic denial of his crimes and instead accuses the accusers themselves …
In his documentary Askold Kurov investigates the truth behind this political show trial. Were the witnesses for the prosecution placed under duress? What effect did detention and the trial itself have on the accused and his family? The film also documents the solidarity shown to Sentsov by filmmaking colleagues such as Agnieszka Holland, Ken Loach and Pedro Almodóvar, and by the European Film Academy, which is beginning its 30th anniversary with this screening in order to campaign once more for Oleg Sentsov’s release.