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Synopsis: The film tells the story of Oleg Vidov, a strikingly handsome uber-popular actor who grew up behind the Iron Curtain in a now dead totalitarian country that did not tolerate the concept of individual freedom or rule of law. Travel outside the USSR was a privilege denied to all but a small number of the cultural elite. After making movies in a half dozen countries, including “capitalist” Denmark, and representing the Soviet Union in dozens of other countries, unknown forces in the government changed his status from vyezdnoi (allowed to travel) to the dreaded nevyezdnoi (disallowed). In 1985 he risked his life and career to reach the US Embassy in Rome, defect, and start all over again in Hollywood, a film industry that scripted Russians as anything but good and good-looking. He instead chose to re-invent himself and change the Cold War image of Russians. The film is based on the autobiography Oleg was writing when he passed unexpectedly. Vidov’s wife journalist and film producer chose Nadia Tass to direct not only because she has helmed so many award-winning films and knew Oleg personally but because she had one foot in each world; her own grandparents escaped from the Bolshevik Revolution to Greece and raised her reciting Russian poetry and acting out Russian plays. These factors gave her the ability to carve out of Oleg’s big life a compelling story about one man’s search for freedom.

Rated

Not Rated

Language

English, Serbian, Russian, Danish

Run Time

3 minutes

Starring

Brian Cox (Narrator)
Costa Ronin (as the voice of Oleg Vidov)

Produced by

Joan Borsten

Director's Statement

For this documentary, testimonials were recorded in Russia, Europe, Australia and the USA. These
were mainly from emigrants from Russia who had witnessed Oleg Vidov’s meteoric rise to
stardom, his suffocation by the state and his persecution by the government.
Oleg defected from Russia in 1985 to the United States. Yes, here he had found the freedom he
was looking for, but it was at the expense of something much deeper, much bigger – the loss of his
Russian culture and his people.
In this film, we explore Oleg’s defection, the issues of state justice, morality and the profound
contrasts of the Soviet and American systems. We re-enact that fateful night when he escaped the
stranglehold of USSR Government at the Slovenian / Austrian border.
At a time when many are confronted by the rise of authoritarianism and arguably, the degradation
of the rule of law in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, this film offers compelling testimony from one who
endured privation and persecution. What fascinated me, is how a system that was designed to
support its people was actually suffocating their potential and destroying the very spirit of a
nation that was so rich in culture, humanity and beauty.
In the rise of populism, a story like Oleg’s reminds us all how valuable freedom is. Oleg Vidov was
pushed to the edge, he was forced to make choices he didn’t want to make. This painful story is
about boldness, to accept the consequences of standing up for what you believe in and to always
pursue what you want.
Entertaining and enlightening, Oleg Vidov’s story offers hope to a new generation of immigrants
escaping from torture and seeking freedom and basic human rights in a new country. This is a
movie that presents Oleg’s life story objectively and allows the audience to interpret for
themselves the riveting journey he was forced to navigate in pursuit of freedom.

Director's Bio

Recipient of 2014’s Screen Leader Award for Outstanding Leadership to the Screen Industry, Nadia Tass is one of Australia’s most respected unique filmmakers. Known for directing Australian classic films “Malcolm”, “The Big Steal” and “Amy”. She has directed films for major studios in Hollywood and her film work has garnered 68 international awards including some at Cannes Film Festival, Milan International Film Festival, Busan Film Festival, Venice Film Festival.

Tass’s work in America includes film and high-end television for Universal Studios, Disney, Warner Bros, ABC, CBS as well as the BBC in London.

Her first feature in the US was “Pure Luck” starring Danny Glover and Martin Short. More recent projects are “Fatal Honeymoon” starring Harvey Keitel, and “Lea To The Rescue” starring Storm Reid. In 2011, “Matching Jack” won Best Director, Best Film and Best Screenplay at the Milan International Film Festival. The film was nominated for an AACTA Award, and won Best Film Prix Du Jury 2011, Cannes Cinephile. “Malcolm” won 8 AFI awards including Best Director, and 23 international awards. Amy won 28 international awards.

The American Cinematheque in Los Angeles honored Ms. Tass with a retrospective of her work in 2012. Retrospectives have also screened in Moscow, Cape Town & Johannesburg, Hawaii and New Delhi.

Production Year

2020

Official Website

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