Documentary explores protest art and political tyranny

Belarusian Subversion
November 12, 2013

In her first documentary, The Lottery, director-producer Madeleine Sackler ’05 explored the controversy surrounding the role of charter schools in America’s public-education system. Now she’s turned her lens to protest art and political tyranny in Eastern Europe.

Dangerous Acts Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus focuses on the underground theater group Belarus Free Theater and its attempts to question and subvert the repressive government that’s been in power since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. By pulling from 300 hours of smuggled footage, as well as uncensored interviews, Sackler and her film crew capture the wrenching consequences of the group’s provocative underground performances.

As the country heads into another presidential “election” in 2010, KGB agents crack down on Free Theater founders. (President Alexander Lukashenko, who has been called Europe’s last remaining dictator, has refused to relinquish power since assuming the position in 1994, with opponents and protestors routinely beaten and arrested.) The film follows the Free Theater members as they are forced to choose between the safety of exile or staying in their repressive homeland and continuing to create subversive art with the hope of sparking social change. 

Dangerous Acts had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in September and will be broadcast on HBO in 2014.