Review of “Vlast” – A Documentary on the Khodorkovsky Story

Vlast is a new documentary directed by Cathryn Collins about the trials of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the state’s destruction of the Yukos oil company, which is now showing as part of MOMA’s Documentary Fortnight 2010.  Below is an excerpt of a good review of the film published on critic Joe Bendel’s blog:

Collins never confuses Khodorkovsky with a choirboy. She makes it very clear Khodorkovsky’s early years are still shrouded in mystery and unsettling rumors. However, she gives him credit for taking on the decrepit Yukos state enterprise at time when the price of oil was at an all time low, eventually turning around the company, making billions in the process. (…)

First-time documentarian Collins is admirably even-handed in her profile of Khodorkovsky, never overstating her case or simply appealing to emotion. While giving the incarcerated mogul credit for his business acumen, she is most impressed by his ability to identify and recruit smart, talented young people for his team. Of course, the implications of his story are clear. If a man with an estimated net worth over fifteen billion dollars is not safe in Putin’s Russia, nobody is.

Many of Vlast’s on-camera interview subjects participated at not inconsiderable risk to their well being. In doing so, they definitely convey an unvarnished sense of life in Russia today. Providing clear and concise historical background, Vlast provides the proper context for non-Russophiles and non-Russophobes to appreciate Khodorkovsky’s story.