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Gabe’s to screen “Pussy Riot: A Punk Rock Prayer” April 3



Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer screening | Gabe’s | April 3 | 7:00 p.m.

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Want more proof that Mission Creek Festival is more than just a Music & Literature Festival? On April 3rd, at 7PM, before the White Lung show, FilmScene and Mission Creek Festival will be screening the Iowa Premiere of Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

If you haven’t heard, Pussy Riot garnered headlines in Feb. 21, 2012 after causing a disturbance at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior, a protest directed at the Orthodox Church’s support of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Dressed in homemade ski masks and miniskirts in garish colors, the Pussy Riot band members burst into a nearly empty Christ the Savior Cathedral and spent less than a minute belting out their “punk prayer” before being hustled out by security guards. Their February stunt was part of the protest movement that gathered strength over the winter and has come under increasing pressure since Putin won a third presidential term in March. -via Business Week

The following month, three members of Pussy Riot were arrested while the remaining two fled the country to avoid prosecution. On August 17, the three detained band members were each sentenced to two years of imprisonment, though one would later be freed on probation. Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer tells this story.

The documentary was produced and directed by American Mike Lerner and Russian Maxim Pozdorovkin. The film combines footage of their surreal show trial, extensive interviews with Pussy Riot’s friends and families, and of course, many videos of their performances. And if that isn’t enough, it’s showing at Gabe’s! Right before a first rate punk rock show with White Lung, Slut River, Nerv, and gluestick!

Pussy Riot: Threat or Menace?

Just this last Sunday, CBS 60 Minutes screened a segment on Pussy Riot, which was remarkable for a couple of reasons. Not only was this Pussy Riot’s debut on US network television, but it gave us the opportunity to hear the venerable CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl speak the words “Pussy Riot”, twisting her mouth as though she was sucking a lemon.

That name, those girls in home-made miniskirts and loud Balaclavas. Even in the United States, Pussy Riot are controversial, offending as many Americans as Russians. Even though they’ve become a cause célèbre amongst college students, artists, and musicians, they are a bit too rude for the mainstream, and a bit too cartoonish for many people to take seriously.




Yet in Russia, who else has been as visible and vocal a critic of that dead-eyed tyrant Vladimir Putin? Boris Spassky has been arrested so many times protesting the Putin regime that it has stopped being news. What Pussy Riot did was expose Putin and his oligarchy for the insecure bullies they are.

By sentencing two young mothers to hard labor for criticizing him, in loud, vulgar, plain language, he has made clear what a sham his Russian Democracy is. He made political prisoners of a group of not particularly talented singers. Pussy Riot is what a tyrant fears most: people who aren’t afraid to tell the truth and won’t take any crap.

Pussy Riot did what no one else was doing in Russia: they showed up where they were not wanted, without permission, and demanded attention for their message. Furthermore their message is explicitly feminist–they were women who wouldn’t shut up and keep sweet. In Russia, where feminism doesn’t exist as a political force outside a few neighborhoods of Moscow, it was upsetting that young women would speak up at all, let alone attack the government and the Russian Orthodox Church in plain, brutal language.

In interviews, Genesis P-Orridge has said of the seminal Industrial band he co-founded, Throbbing Gristle, that they had to make their performances extreme as possible in order to resist being co-opted by the commercial side of pop culture. Pussy Riot took things to extremes in order to make the world pay attention. No one has accused them of being great musicians, but they are brilliant provocateurs in a country that has traded away their political freedoms for a facade of false stability. There are probably hundreds of punk rock bands in Russia now, but only one dared to take on Vladimir Putin and his lackies in the church: Pussy Riot.



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