September 7, 2011, 7:00 P.M.

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007

Outside the Box [Office] and Goldfilms invite you and a guest to a special screening of

A Bitter Taste of Freedom

Written/Directed/Shot by Marina Goldovskaya
Produced by Malcolm Dixelius and Marina Goldovskaya
Followed by a Q&A with Marina Goldovskaya

7:00 P.M. on Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

The Ray Stark Family Theatre

George Lucas Building, SCA 108
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007


About A Bitter Taste of Freedom

She was brave, she was bold, and she was beautiful. In her fearless quest to uncover the wrongdoings of the Russian State, Anna Politkovskaya inspired awe in some and fear in countless others. An investigative journalist for Moscow’s Novaya Gazeta, she was often the only spokesperson for victims of Putin’s government. Hers was a lonely voice, yet loud enough for the entire country to hear. It was too loud. At age 48 she was assassinated for simply doing her job.

Anna Plitkovskaya must have foreseen her own violent death. Like in a Greek tragedy, Destiny takes hold of her life. The heroine’s stubborn desire to help the oppressed, her tragic flaw, brings on her death. The decision to stay true to her calling was seemingly always her own. At every turn of her life, she would choose the road that led to the inevitable, tragic end. As a result, many see her life’s work heroic.

35mm print provided courtesy of Goldfilms. Not Rated. In Russian, with English subtitles. Running time: 85 minutes.

To learn more about the film, click here.


About the Guest

Marina Goldovskaya (Producer, Director, Writer, Cinematographer) is one of Russia’s best-known documentary filmmakers with a strong international reputation. She has made 35 films, many of which received top prizes (Prix Europa, Golden Gate Award, Golden Hugo, Joris Ivens  Award, Silver Rembrandt, and many others) at various International Film Festivals. During her long career she wrote, directed, produced and filmed documentaries for Russian, Austrian, French, German, and US Television. She is a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award for the Art of Documenting History presented by the Russian Association of non-Fiction Film and TV (2006) and Luminaria Life Achievement Award presented in Santa Fe, USA, in 2007. Marina is now running the Documentary program at the UCLA Film School. Her latest book A Woman with a Movie Camera has been released by Texas University Press in 2006.

Director's Statement

Anna and her husband Sasha were my students at Moscow State University. Later, as both their careers as journalists took off, we became close friends. In 1991, I made Taste of Freedom, a documentary about them. I wanted to describe how the changes introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev, perestroika, affected life in the USSR using as an example the Politkovsky family.
It so happened that making this film prompted me to undertake a long-term project of chronicling Russia's transition from totalitarianism to democracy. Perestroika came about unexpectedly and brought beautiful, euphoric feelings of hope for a better future. At that time, of course, I couldn’t imagine how difficult and dramatic this transition would turn out to be for Russia and for the Russian people.
This ongoing project has resulted so far in ten documentary portraits of my country of origin at different stages of its development (Shattered Mirror, 1992; Lucky to Be Born in Russia 1993; House on Arbat Street, 1994 etc). A Bitter Taste of Freedom (2011) is the latest installment in my continuous observation of the last two decades of Russian history. This film returns us to the Politkovsky family 20 years later.
The children grew up. Sasha Politkovsky, famous and talented, left not only the profession of journalism but also his family. In contrast, Anna became a well-known investigative journalist for the Moscow liberal newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
Anna was writing about the atrocities of the infamous Chechen war, often the only spokesperson for the innocent victims. She was a fearless woman and an  uncompromising critic of the Russian authorities. Her activities went far beyond journalistic reporting: she was a true human rights activist defending civilians whose lives were being destroyed by the dirty and criminal Chechen war.
In spite of numerous threats she continued to do her job. She was assassinated on October 7, 2006.
Anna and I were friends. We trusted each other and always had a lot of things to share and discuss. When we met, we couldn’t stop talking, and I could not stop filming. We spoke not only about her work but about everything.
Since her assassination, Anna has become a symbol for the struggle against tyranny and corruption, an iron lady. As time passes, she is becoming more and more a myth. Our film A Bitter Taste of Freedom shows Anna as who she was:  a normal woman, tender with her friends, loving with her children, and uncompromising with those who abuse the human rights of simple people whoever they were: Chechens, Russians or anyone else.  
I feel very strongly that a film about somebody like Anna is especially important now, when the world is so full of cynicism and corruption, when we so desperately need more people with her level of courage and integrity and commitment.

Marina Goldovskaya                                                                 December 8, 2010
Producer, Director, Cinematographer                                       Los Angeles

About Outside the Box [Office]

Outside the Box [Office] is a weekly showcase for upcoming releases highlighting world cinema, documentary and independent film titles. Recognizing a need for greater diversity on campus, the series will draw from around the globe to present movies that may challenge, inspire or simply entertain. The weekly screenings will be on Wednesday and Sunday nights (and other select dates, as they arise) in the School of Cinematic Arts Complex, George Lucas Building.

To view the calendar of screenings, click here.

Check-In & Reservations

This screening is free of charge and open to the general public. Please bring a photo ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 6:30 P.M.


The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $8.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Avenue. We recommend parking in outdoor Lot M or V, or Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Please note that Parking Structure D cannot accommodate tall vehicles such as SUVs. Metered street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.

Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago
Email: aago@cinema.usc.edu
Phone: 213.740.2330