Mansky’s 102-minute-long film tracks Putin and his circle from 1999 until March 25, 2000, the day that then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was first elected president after the resignation of Russia’s first post-Soviet leader, Boris Yeltsin. The film features footage that Mansky shot during Putin’s election campaign and on election day itself. The shots include informal interactions between the country’s soon-to-be strongman president and his closest aides and supporters.
Mansky, now a Putin critic living in Latvia, has described his “testimony” as “very important not only for Russian society – to cure it from an advanced illness – but also to other countries – to prevent them from losing their freedom.”
Putin’s Witnesses is among five films competing for the European Film Academy's award for the best European documentary. The Academy will announce the winner on December 7 in Berlin.
In 2018, the film won the Grand Prix for Best Documentary at the Czech Republic’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, a Bronze Horse Award for Best International Documentary at the Stockholm International Film Festival, and a special mention at the Camden International Film Festival in the United States.