“We got off the train in Eastern Siberia at four o’clock in the morning. The platform was empty except for this guy with the mobile phone, and he says very loudly ‘there are three people here’” - Director, Cyril Tuschi
Sounding more like scenes from the next James Bond movie than making a documentary, KHODORKOVSKY director Cyril Tuschi was followed by a car with dimmed headlights the night he arrived in Eastern Siberia to continue filming his exposé into the life of Russian Oligarch, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Tuschi recalls it was early on in the five years it took to make the documentary that he noticed his movements were being observed; “it was like being in a bad thriller movie.” Admittedly feeling harassed by the 007 tactics, Tuschi continued with his film. But it wasn’t easy. It took three years of failed attempts to see the imprisoned Khodorkovsky, before he was unexpectedly granted a precious ten minute interview during his second trial. Surrounded by armed guards, and through the bullet proof glass of the courtroom docks, Tuschi was able to ask the questions he had been pondering over ever since he heard about the fate that had befallen Russia’s once richest man.
If Tuschi thought he had run into a few speed bumps making the film, he almost hit a road block when it came to premiering the content. During the editing process in Indonesia, the documentary was stolen from his office, and this wasn't to be the only incident of its kind. Just days before the world premier in Berlin, the final cut was burgled in what police described as ‘a very professional job.’ Rumours that the robbery was politically motivated were fuelled as no other valuables were taken.
"Traumatic" is how the director describes the ordeal, feeling forced out of home and office, after receiving advice to seek special protection.
Director Cyril Tuschi at The Berlin Film Festival 2011
Thankfully, the premier went ahead and was greeted with rapturous praise at the 2011 Berlinale Film Festival. So, safe and sound, the film is due for release in the UK in March 2012.... hopefully!