New to DVD this week:
ON PUTIN’S BLACKLIST
An investigation of Russia’s foreign adoption ban and what it reveals about the nation’s broader international politics.
Ivanov’s film begins as an exploration of the complicated nature of international adoptions of Russian children, only to note how the ban of this practice ends up disrupting the plans of several families and the potentially bright futures of countless Russian orphans. Ivanov suggests a larger, more insidious, and wholly politically-motivated reason for the ban and how it is reflective of the new Cold War: Putin’s desire to undercut America’s global dominance. In this case, the ban is connected to homophobic rhetoric, anti-gay laws, and the persecution of LGBT people in Russia, and involves countries that recognize same-sex marriage. But the film continues to broaden out further and further, away from the ostensible focus on adoption to draw in by now quite familiar stories of further abuses of power and human decency by the state, including attacks on NGOs, artists like Pussy Riot, and pretty much anyone else who doesn’t tow the xenophobic, jingoistic party line. The result is a very messy, unfocused project that seems to aspire to a political critique but isn’t able to properly juggle the massive topic in a sensible or satisfying manner.