Official Selection 2015 Winner
25 mins, USA
Official website: https://www.facebook.com/risethefilm
Writer: Wyatt Maw
Director: Wyatt Maw
Producer: Cyril Abraham
Cinematographer: Cory Warner
Cast: Elena Caruso, Gleb Kaminer, Gera Hermann
Synopsis: A man sacrifices himself for a woman wrongly tried of murder in Revolutionary Russia. In 1918, Russia has fallen into a state of chaos. The Revolution has shaken the world order, giving rise to a police state under the guise of Communism. Those of the higher class, the nobility, live in fear. Two aristocrats in hiding, Ivan and Nadya, find themselves caught up in the whirlwind. Charged with a murder they didn’t commit, they are brought before the secret police, known as the Cheka, early in the morning. In a quiet bunker, they are tried by the head of the police, Gavril. Unable to convict them with murder, Gavril senses that Nadya is an aristocrat in hiding. In order to confirm this, he excuses Ivan from the proceedings and entrusts him to the care of one of his soldiers Grigori. Now alone, Gavril threatens Nadya with a loaded pistol. Grigori, disillusioned by the cruelty, gives up his watch of Ivan, allowing him to escape back to the trial area. Here, Ivan interrupts Gavril, convincing him that he murdered the dead man and that he is the aristocrat Gavril is looking for. Gavril accepts his confession, sends Ivan to his death and allows Nadya to go free. Nadya and Ivan share one last moment together before he is led way. Moments before his execution, he relates a nightmare that has plagued him to Grigori, his executioner.
About the director: Wyatt hails from the mountains of Montana, where he has written and directed many short films over the years, including his French Revolution film, SILENCE, which was nominated for the Spike Lee Student Film Award. A recent graduate of the prestigious American Film Institute Conservatory, his thesis film, RISE, which explores class struggle in Revolutionary Russia, is currently on the festival circuit. An accomplished musician, he has won national fiddling championships and recorded with many renowned artists. Wyatt also devotes a significant amount of time to writing fiction and non-fiction. Many of his essays and poems have been published in local and student newspapers throughout the years. His study of history, and its effects on contemporary society, stem from a deep rooted fascination with sociological and cultural evolution over time.
Director’s Statement: I’m not Russian. There exists no familial connection to Russia, past or present. This movie is not about Russia. It merely serves as a period appropriate setting for a kangaroo court. At the end of 1918, Lenin’s secret police, the Cheka, terrorized the new Russia and its provinces. Predating the horrors of Nazi Germany, the Cheka persecuted innocent people at will, trying them en masse in hasty courts all over the land. Oftentimes, the verdict was decided upon before the proceedings. Those of an aristocratic background stood little chance of survival.
I find myself strongly attached to a story of perverse injustice. The man in this story, Ivan, must battle the morbid oppression enacted upon him and his lover Nadya. The only way to combat the evil, or the Cheka, is to sacrifice his own life. I would like to think that he represents the ideal in every man when confronted with a threat to the woman he loves. His act of the ultimate surrender seems the ultimate weapon against the demon horde. It stands as a potent reminder of the power of the self and the power of selflessness. I wish I could be Ivan.