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Let It All Burn: Russian Rockers’ Fight For Freedom of Speech

Watch in English: Let It All Burn (2020) by Andrey Loshak

In December 2018, as pro-government activists campaigned nationwide against “extremism” by rappers and rockers, an experimental Russian rock band with a taste for apocalyptic lyrics caught the attention of police in the western Russian city of Voronezh.

With songs like This World Is Sick and Sad Bitch, IC3PEAK had acquired a reputation for laying bare the malaise of many Russian millennials. By the time they reached Voronezh, the group already had been briefly detained in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk for unclear reasons and had seen a string of performances canceled.

Now, a December 6, 2018 police investigation into alleged food poisoning at the Voronezh billiards club where IC3PEAK was scheduled to perform looked like it might lead to the same.

In Let It All Burn, Russian filmmaker and TV journalist Andrey Loshak (InterNYET: A History Of The Russian Internet) went behind the scenes to document the club and band’s struggle with local police and officials over the right to perform.

“A large part of the police understand that they are forced to get involved with idiocy,” commented Loshak.“It’s written on their faces that they’re suffering” from their actions.

The young people who came to the Voronezh concert, however, scoffed at the police’s attempted shutdown of the club as a throwback to the 1980s, when tolerance ran slim for those who did not toe the ruling Communist Party’s line.

For IC3PEAK vocalist Anastasia Kreslina, that outrage explains the band’s popularity in another less-than-tolerant time.

“We’re just in Russia, and it’s like we’re only reflections of all that’s going on,” she said.