Refusenik (2008) - Rotten Tomatoes

Refusenik (2008)

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Historically speaking, documentarist Laura Bialis' nonfiction effort Refusenik marks one of the first cinematic attempts to chronicle the decades-long liberation of Soviet Jews, from the early years of the 20th century through the end of the Cold War. Drawing from archival footage and extended interviews, Bialis documents the process by which a regionally oriented, grassroots social-activist movement ultimately ballooned into as massive, transcontinental human-rights crusade. By shining a light on the activists who risked their safety (and, in some cases, their lives) -- many enduring hellish years in Gulag labor camps -- Bialis' film explores the concepts of martyrdom and self-sacrifice, even as the director carefully defines a broader socio-historical progression.

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Critic Reviews for Refusenik

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (12)

One credits their naivete as the best tool to change history, as, because of it, they refused to cave in to excuse-making politicians and initial indifference in the Jewish-American community.

October 18, 2008 | Full Review…
Variety
Top Critic

There are fascinating archival clips that show rare glimpses of early years of struggle behind the Iron Curtain, while the story eventually moves through such momentous footage as the Helsinki Accords and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

June 19, 2008 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

The result is a documentary that plays like a fat, satisfying work of nonfiction literature -- the final word because it seems to contain every word.

May 30, 2008 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Packed with an extraordinary amount of archival material, the film offers a fascinating, if occasionally dense look at a grass-roots movement that became the world's chance to retroactively fight Hitler's Holocaust.

May 23, 2008 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

[An] absorbing portrait of the refusenik movement of the 1960s and '70s.

May 22, 2008
L.A. Weekly
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Refusenik falls short as entertainment because of the plodding, overly studious approach of the director, Laura Bialis.

May 9, 2008 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…
New York Times
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