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Alexey Navalny CNN documentary
Alexey Navalny (CNN via Youtube screengrab)

CNN Films and HBO Max have partnered on Navalny, a revealing fly-on-the-wall documentary thriller by filmmaker Daniel Roher about anti-corruption Russian government opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Navalny survived an assassination attempt by poisoning with a lethal nerve agent in August 2020. During his months-long recovery Navalny makes shocking discoveries about his assassination attempt and decides to return home. Despite the risks to his personal safety, he willingly returned to Russia on January 17, 2021, and was arrested moments after landing in Moscow. January 17, 2022, marks one year since Navalny was imprisoned for leaving Russia, related to a prior suspended sentence.

Daniel Roher, who directed the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival opening night film Once Were Brothers, said, “Having a front seat to history while shooting this film was a life-changing experience. I am grateful to CNN Films and HBO Max for their unwavering support and their commitment to amplifying the unbelievable story of one man and his fight against an authoritarian regime.”

In August 2020, a plane traveling from Siberia to Moscow made an emergency landing. One of its passengers, Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, was deathly ill. He was taken to a local Siberian hospital and evacuated to Berlin, where the German government eventually determined he had been poisoned with Novichok, a lethal nerve agent implicated in attacks on other opponents of the Russian government.

Navalny and his team learned about the attempt on his life from the data investigative journalism outlet Bellingcat, which along with other international news organizations, including CNN, uncovered crucial details about the plot and its potential links to the Kremlin. President Vladimir Putin denied any involvement in the attack, and accused news organizations that reported on the investigation of ‘information warfare,’ facilitated by foreign special services. In Navalny, filmmaker Daniel Roher reveals a courageous and controversial would-be president at the precipice of sacrificing everything in order to bring reform to his homeland.

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