Review | Documentary thriller ‘Navalny’ must-see at Rev Film Fest

Navalny | Dir: Daniel Roher | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

The poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny made the news all around the world. In August 2020, the outspoken Navalny, who is the only real challenger to Putin, was flying from Siberia back to Moscow when he became violently ill. The plane made a detour to Omsk and he was rushed to hospital.

Canadian filmmaker Daniel Roher’s documentary thriller uses a team of people to re-enact and to investigate Navalny’s near-death experience, as well as painting a portrait of the anti-Putin dissident while Russian authorities counter each discovery with disinformation.

At first the Russian police tried to keep his wife Yulia away from her husband but, as the news footage shows, German chancellor Angela Merkel stepped in and sent an air ambulance to collect the patient. While it is not new information that the German doctors discovered the Soviet-developed nerve agent Novichok in Navalny’s system, the revelation is still shocking … but Roher’s team discover much more.

Shot mainly in Germany as Navalny recovers, he becomes the superstar of his survival and even posts a murder investigation chart on TikTok to the soundtrack of OMC’s How Bizarre. Then there is the unbelievable scene where Navalny poses as a Russian bureaucrat, interviewing one of the people involved on the phone while pretending to be investigating the failed assassination attempt.

While Putin refuses to even utter Navalny’s name at press conferences, Navalny (whose YouTube channel has received millions of views) remains a huge irritation for Putin. Unfortunately, while the world may cheer for a Russian politician wanting to do something about corruption, we all knew how it would end if Navalny returned to Russia.

Navalny screens as part of the Revelation Perth International Film Festival at Luna Leederville and Luna on SX. Rev runs from 7 July until 17 July and the full program and tickets are available at

Lezly Herbert

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