VTIFF Presents: The Death of Stalin

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VTIFF Presents: The Death of Stalin
Host sponsor - Main Street Landing

Directed by Armondo Iannucci
France ⎮ 2017 ⎮ Fiction ⎮ 107 min ⎮ English
Major festivals ⎮ TIFF/Sundance

The internal political landscape of 1950’s Soviet Russia takes on darkly comic form in a new film by Emmy award-winning and Oscar-nominated writer/director Armando Iannucci. In the days following Stalin’s collapse, his core team of ministers tussle for control; some want positive change in the Soviet Union, others have more sinister motives. Their one common trait? They’re all just desperately trying to remain alive. With Steve Buscemi, Michael Palin, Simon Russell Beale and more.

“The Death of Stalin may be set over 60 years ago”, says Armando Iannucci, “but it offers some sobering lessons about today’s political landscape: I had the first conversations about the film two or three years ago when no one knew about Brexit or Trump,” he says. “At the time I was consciously looking to do something about dictatorship, about authoritarianism, about how a country can be terrorised by a personality even though that character might not be charismatic, exploring concepts such as groupthink. There was no attempt to echo what ended up happening outside the film with Trump’s election and Brexit, but there are weird echoes in the film.

“They talk about false narratives and how one minute someone could be an enemy of the people and the next minute be rehabilitated and how you can have different sets of narrative depending on what words you use,” continues Iannucci. “We are in an era of false narratives and post truth and if there is anything to take away from the film which applies now, it's to look at what happens when the government controls the flow of information, tells you what’s true and what's not. You have to have independent outlets for news gathering because if one person says ‘I'm only going to speak to you if you agree with me’, you end up where nothing feels real and you might as well believe them or you'll be locked up. I wasn't expecting this film to be a comment on contemporary politics, but if sadly it turns out to be, I'll let people draw their own conclusions from what they see on the screen.”

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