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Nashi is an increasingly popular political youth organization in Russia with direct ties to the Kremlin. Officially, its goal is to support the current political system by creating a future elite among the brightest and most loyal Russian teenagers. But the organization also works to prevent the political opposition from spreading their views among young people.

Masha with Putin

16-year-old Masha Drokova, a Nashi commissar and spokesperson, is an ambitious middle-class student from the outskirts of Moscow. After joining Nashi at the age of 15, she moves to the very top of the organization, and is rewarded for her dedication with a university scholarship, an apartment, and even a pro-Putin talk show.

Everything changes when Drokova becomes acquainted with a group of liberal journalists, including popular anti-Putin reporter Oleg Kashin. At first, she remains devoted to Nashi while pursuing tentative friendships with its left-wing critics — but when Kashin is brutally beaten by "unknown perpetrators," she has a genuine change of heart and decides to take a stand.

"In her first feature, Danish filmmaker Lise Birk Pedersen offers a chilling view of modern Russia, its fragile — perhaps illusory — democracy, and Nashi's alarmingly fascist tendencies (mass rallies, book burnings, "patriotic education," and vilification of opponents). But, distinguished by an artful, cinematic aesthetic and astonishing intimacy, the film's emotional weight lies in the evolution of Masha's political consciousness. Putin's Kiss reminds us that all politics are deeply personal."
(John Nein, Sundance Film Festival)

Director: Lise Birk Pedersen
Producer: Helle Faber (Enemies of Happiness, The Dark Side of Chocolate)
Cinematographer: Lars Skree (Armadillo)
Editors: Janus Billeskov Jansen (Burma VJ), Steen Johannesen (The President)
Produced by Monday Productions, in association with Made in Copenhagen