School is in session via “Russian Lessons,” an exceptionally instructive but awkwardly structured docu that fingers the former Soviet Union for the ethnic cleansing of neighboring Georgians, and the international news media for disregarding the evidence. Relentlessly incriminating, this hard-hitting film by Andrei Nekrasov and his recently deceased wife Olga Konskaya tells a vastly complicated geopolitical story with reasonable clarity until the midpoint, when it flashes back to the early ’90s in a belated and otherwise misguided attempt to trace the sources of said atrocities. Unreserved critical kudos will be needed for “Lessons” to educate the masses on cable.
To make a very long story short, the docu asserts that Georgia’s desire to join the West as a fully independent nation gave rise to a Russian secret war after the Soviet Union’s collapse. Wrenching images include those of dead and severely injured Georgian children, and of a jet packed full of refugees in the minutes before its being shot down by Russian fighter planes. Stronger as a journalistic expose than as a work of storytelling, the film repeatedly indicts the BBC for perpetuating the Russian army’s campaign of disinformation.