Russian Lessons


An investigation into Russian preparation and execution of the war in Georgia, 2008.

The film starts as a journey by the two directors-protagonists, Olga and Andrei, one on each side of the frontline during the 2008 Russian-Georgian war. A personal take of the two Russians on war, politics, political culture and history focuses first of all on human drama before coming up with assessments. They gradually emerge, however, as the intercut double journey progresses, the two meet on the frontline and return to their native St. Petersburg with the footage they shot during the war.

In their cutting room the filmmakers analyze and edit their material, and this process becomes a part of the actual film. Using this device the film strives to integrate hard fact analysis into the narrative of the two filmmakers’ journey through space and time, but also through the minefield of propaganda and emotional manipulation that have surrounded the Russo-Georgian confrontation.

Importantly, the film puts the recent war in the context of the post-Soviet history which has managed to keep its darkest pages away from international public’s attention despite dozens of relevant UN resolutions and OSCE conventions. At the same time as Milosevic and his henchmen were earning the reputation of the biggest evil of the post-communist world, a perfectly comparable, but perhaps even more cruel, campaign of terror and ethnic cleansing was happening in Georgia considered by some as Russia’s sphere of “privileged strategic interests”.

The film is the directorial debut of Olga Konskaya, a prominent film producer and human rights campaigner, who, sadly, passed away while finishing the film, at the age of 44.


Olga Konskaya and Andrei Nekrasov

Torstein Grude and Olga Konskaya

Olga Konskaya, Andrei Nekrasov and Erik Andersson

Original Music:
Peter Scartabello

Written by:
Olga Konskaya and Andrei Nekrasov

Trond Tønder, Varlam Karchkhadze and Davit Asatiani


Vladimir Putin
Mikhail Saakashvili
Vissarion Apliaa
Valery Gergiev
Gen. Mamuka Khurashvili
Marat Kulakmetov
Eduard Shevardnadze
Olga Konskaya
Andrei Nekrasov
Angela Merkel
Dmitry Medvedev

Production details

Original title
Russian Lessons (Уроки русского)


Feature Film: 110 min, TV-version: 58 min

Russian and Georgian

English, French, German, Norwegian, Russian, Spanish

HDCam, BetaCam, Blu-Ray, DVD

Production company
Piraya Film, Dreamscanner

Production country

Kudos Family. Festival Distribution: The Norwegian Film Institute


Awards & Festivals


2011 Nominee Cinema for Peace Award for Justice, USA

2010 Nominated for Prix Europa – Best Current Affairs Programming

2010 Norwegian Short Film Festival: The Golden Chair for Best Norwegian Documentary

2010 Nominated for Amanda Award, Best Documentary, Norwegian Film Festival

2010 Nominee, Sundance Film Festival


2010 Ronda International Film Festival, Spain

2010 Scanorama, Lithuania

2010 Rencontres Intl du documentaire de Montréal, Canada

2010 One World Bratislava, Slovakia

2010 Leeds International Film Festival, UK

2010 CPH:DOX, Denmark

2010 Sheffield Doc/Fest, UK

2010 Kaohsiung Film Festival, Taiwan

2010 Dok Leipzig, Germany

2010 Prix Europa, Germany

2010 doclisboa, Portugal

2010 Intl Human Rights Film Festival, Albania

2010 Vancouver Intl Film Festival, Canada

2010 Nordisk Panorama – Five Cities Film Festival, Bergen, Norway

2010 DMZ DOCS, Korea

2010 Baltic Sea Documentary Forum, Latvia

2010 Aye Aye Film Festival, Nancy-Lorraine, France

2010 Melbourne Intl Film Festival, Australia

2010 Era New Horizons Intl Film Festival, Poland

2010 New Zealand Intl Film Festival

2010 Ischia Film Festival, Italy

2010 Internationale Münchner Filmwochen, Germany

2010 Norwegian Short Film Festival, Grimstad

2010 San Francisco Int. Film Festival, USA

2010 Signes de Nuit Film Festival, Paris, France

2010 Hong Kong International Film Festival

2010 Tampere Film Festival, Finland

2010 One World International Human Rights Film Festival, Czech Republic

2010 Rotterdam International Film Festival, Netherlands

2010 Sundance Film Festival, USA




Gori train mine
Credit: Varlam Karchkhadze, Piraya Film as

Credit: Verlam Karchkhadze, PirayaFilm

Director Olga Konskaya with soldier
Credit: Rati Gomarteli, Piraya Film as

Director Andrei Nekrasov
Credit Rati Gomarteli Piraya Film as

Directors Olga Konskaya and Andrei Nekrasov
Credit: Torstein Grude, Piraya Film as

Producer Torstein Grude, Directors Olga Konskaya and Andrei Nekrasov
Credit: Maxim Tartakovsky, Piraya Film as



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