directed by Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin
by Angelo Muredda Civil disobedience is about as uncinematic as political protests get, so credit Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin for making Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer a more or less compelling paean to the troupe's fortitude against Russian orthodoxy. The film chronicles the ongoing legal battle that ensued from the feminist collective's 15-second guerrilla performance of a song called "God Shit" at the altar of St. Christ Church in Moscow. The impromptu number, captured in fuzzy cellphone video that's the most stirring footage in the movie by a mile, got masked performers Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Ekaterina Samutsevich, and Mariya Alyokhina a 3-year sentence at a penal colony for simultaneously dumping on the Orthodox Church and Putin. That such a minor demonstration could inspire such a heavy-handed state response is just one of the hooks the filmmakers exploit to strong effect in their look at how deeply religious values are embedded in Putin's Russia, which turns relatively minor acts of punk rebellion into the most vital expressions of political dissent.