It is poignant that the Adirondack Film Society and Lake Placid Film Forum have chosen “Red Army” as part of its inaugural monthly film series. Directed by Gabe Polsky, “Red Army” goes behind the Iron Curtain and tracks the Soviet Union’s hockey team domination to its unraveling at the Lake Placid 1980 Winter Olympic Games to its ultimate demise.
Executive Producers Werner Herzog and Jerry Weintraub helped bring Polsky’s vision to life in this documentary that has received rave reviews from the Cannes, New York, Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals. In “Red Army,” Polsky tracks the Russian hockey dynasty through the eyes of its captain Slava Fetisov. The film reveals how Fetisov fell from the pedestal of Russian national hero to national enemy during the Cold War when hockey wasn’t just a game, but political propaganda and its players were pawns.
Children were recruited from a young age and only the elite were allowed to be part of an elusive team. The film links the Soviet Union’s political rise and fall to its prestigious hockey team. Using archival film clips, the documentary spotlights a team that practiced for hours daily, was watched and threatened by the KGB, and was isolated from family.
With some narration by Fetisov, “Red Army” has its Adirondack ties with emotional footage of the Lake Placid 1980 Winter Olympic “Miracle” win, but glimpses into the emotional defeat from the Russian players’ eyes.
According to Adirondack Film Society’s Marketing Consultant Fred Balzac, the goal for the Film Forum is to get back to the roots of the Lake Placid Film Forum, which is to bring feature and documentary films not shown in North Country commercial theatres.
“We also want to bring films that have local ties,” says Balzac. “We will have a tie-in to each film. Either filmmakers or someone connected to the film will be here to discuss their films. We also have scheduled Skype sessions. There will be opportunities to continue with the education aspect of the Film Forum’s work.”
“Red Army” is rated PG and will be shown this Friday and Saturday (November 7-8) at 7 pm at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. Tickets may be purchased online or at the box office for $7. Since the LP Film Forum is presenting first-run films, a schedule is not available in advance. The monthly series will continue through May.
Photo courtesy of Polsky Films.