By Rachel Zalucki, E23 Reporter

The following review contains spoilers.

Out of all the movies I saw at True/False Film Fest this year, “Our New President” was undoubtedly the most memorable one. The film uses a montage of various clips and segments from Russian media to make it painfully apparent how privatizing media affects politics.

Most of the documentary features footage from networks like Russia Today and Russia Now. These networks are headed by prominent media figures akin to political puppets, claiming that objectivity is a myth and journalism should only reflect one’s love of Russia instead of one’s criticisms of it. Some footage is taken from the independent media outlet National Russian Television Network, but most of this footage is of the network’s offices being seized by mysterious military forces allegedly associated with the Kremlin. The fall of the NRT was seen by many as the “last stand of Russian democracy.”

In America, the conflict between media and government has never been a secret, but watching Russian military forces seize Russian journalists and replace them with Putin-friendly figures is bone-chilling. Watching the daily weather reports turn into daily readings of Putin’s astral charts and nationally broadcast hockey games is equally fascinating and disturbing.

Trump himself has caused a lot of outrage in the U.S. over his vague rhetoric but is celebrated in Russia as an intellectual aristocrat with a stunning vernacular. His physique, down to the crevices of his thumbs, is celebrated in Russia. These shots are also supplemented with video diaries shot by members of the Russian public, congratulating Trump after he won the election and expressing how much they love him. One man is so bold that he expresses how glad he is that Russia rigged the American election, and it’s admittedly hard to decide if he was kidding or not.

This movie, in my opinion, was not so much of an exposé on how propagandized Russian media is but also how bold Russia is to mock the U.S. and its politics. No one was more targeted by the mocking than Hillary Clinton. Claims against her ranged from potential “retardation” to severe dementia, with each insult retaining the same mean-spiritedness and boldness as the last. However, as the American election closes and suspicion about Russian collusion rises, we see the media grow increasingly hostile toward Trump, with no real rhyme or reason as to the sudden shift in tone.

In hindsight, I should have expected this film, given it was playing at 10 p.m., to be one of the most soul-shattering selections of the festival, but it definitely became apparent when director Maxim Pozdorovkin walked out for the extended Q-and-A with a simple, withdrawn “I told you this wouldn’t feel good.”

The movie wasn’t even the most memorable part of the experience. It was the heckling. I’m relatively new to the True/False scene, and I’ve loved every minute of it thus far. I always enjoyed the way True/False allows directors and artists alike to have their work examined under a lens and picked apart under their noses. It takes a lot of vulnerability to face such criticism so directly, but nevertheless, it shapes them into better artists. However, since most venues have open bars, it was no surprise that some people got so riled up by the movie and took a long stride past constructive criticism into harassment. I must also commend Pozdorovkin for the calm way he handled the random shouting and obscenities, but with such a provocative movie, he has undoubtedly had much experience with hecklers.

Ultimately, “Our New President” is the true “Black Mirror” episode we never knew we needed. This hard-hitting documentary is guaranteed to give you a whole new level of gratitude (or at the very least, slight appreciation) for American media and democracy as a whole.

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