Citizen K – Film Review

Written, directed, and narrated by award winning documentary film-maker Alex Gibney, Citizen K is a political documentary about controversial figure Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who at one time was believed to have been the wealthiest man in Russia with a fortune that is estimated to be around $15 billion and was even ranked 16th on Forbes list of billionaires.

It is post-soviet Russia and with the collapse of the USSR, Mikhail Khodorkovsky created Russia’s first commercial bank and Yukos, Russia’s biggest oil company by taking advantage of the privatisation of the state assets. With successful businesses Mikhail Khodorkovsky had a level of political influence and would go on to criticise Vladimir Putin‘s government for being corrupt. A few months later, Khodorkovsky was sentenced to ten years in prison for fraud, embezzlement and money laundering.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky was eventually released from prison and now lives in exile in England where he has since become an advocate for democracy and human rights is Russia. This has caused Khodorkovsky to be a part an anti-Putin campaign which appears to have a massive following across Russia.

Alex Gibney uses several different film-making techniques to tell his story. He uses archival footage, photographs, newspaper articles and past and present interviews with journalists and other people that were involved. The interviews with the journalists are very informative and they tell both sides of the story rather than being biased or one-sided with their opinions. The interviews with Mikhail Khodorkovsky are very entertaining to watch as he is such an interesting person; he is very well-spoken, charismatic, intelligent and every word he says is important to the context of the story. The film also includes stunning shots of many images of Russia such as the Kremlin, shots of the snow taken from trains, as well as the oil company that Mikhail Khodorkovsky owned.

Citizen K is recommended for people interested in history and politics. If the subject matter of the film doesn’t sound like it would interest you, never fear because I do believe this film will hold your attention for the entire 126 minutes and you will learn something new as well.

Citizen K had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and has also played at the Toronto Film Festival and BFI London Film Festival. Citizen K was also nominated for Best Documentary Screenplay at the 72nd Writers Guild of America Awards but it lost to The Inventor: Out for Blood which is another documentary film by Alex Gibney.

Citizen K will open in cinemas across Australia from the 5th of March.

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