As the anatomy of a murder, "211: Anna" -- named for the 211th Russian journalist to die since the Soviet Union's collapse -- goes far beyond the body in question to explore a nation's innards over two decades.

As the anatomy of a murder, “211: Anna” — named for the 211th Russian journalist to die since the Soviet Union’s collapse — goes far beyond the body in question to explore a nation’s innards over two decades. Before being shot point-blank in her Moscow apartment building in 2006, newspaperwoman Anna Politkovskaya covered the Chechen conflict in a manner highly critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Threatened, held captive and poisoned nearly to death, Politkovskaya appears in the film saying she’s willing to give her life to speak truth to power — a moment at once devastating and oddly cathartic, like the film, which deserves wide TV and fest play.

Docu’s rich material includes interviews with Politkovskaya’s journalist husband and their two kids and unsettling footage of the 2004 school hostage crisis in Beslan, where hundreds of children died during the firefight between Chechen terrorists and Russian security forces. The film ends on interviews with Russian citizens who express apathy and even annoyance when asked about the murder of Politkovskaya, who covered the Beslan siege despite harassment.

211: Anna

Italy

Production

A Polis SRL production. (International sales: Polis, Inverigo, Italy.) Produced by Stefano Alpini. Executive producer, Alessandro Papini. Directed by Paolo Serbandini, Giovanna Massimetti.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Vladimir Ivanov; editor, Vittorio De Felice, Gabriele Spinelli. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (World Cinema -- competing), Jan. 22, 2009. Russian, Italian dialogue. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Anna Politkovskaya, Aleksandr Politkovsky.
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