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Queens Chronicle

Socrates Park kicks off its outdoor cinema series

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Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 3:14 pm, Fri Jul 11, 2014.

Socrates Sculpture Park’s annual Outdoor Cinema series began with a bang, literally.

The opening night of the film event was met with storm clouds and pouring rain. Still, 20 or so diehard fans braved the weather and came out to see “Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer.”

Though the event was eventually canceled, it seemed strangely appropriate that only the truly committed stuck it out in the rain for so long.

After all, “Pussy Riot” tells the story of an all-female punk performance group from Russia whose beliefs in feminism and publicity stunts have turned many against them while also drawing an almost cult-like following.

Pussy Riot made international waves in 2012 when they took to the altar of Christ the Savior Cathedral, deemed the holiest place in the Russian Orthodox Chuch, in their usual dresses and neon balaclavas and rocked out to their song “A Punk Prayer.”

The song calls on the Virgin Mary to become a feminist and criticizes the strong bond between church and state.

“A man stands at the altar but a woman should occupy it,” one member said of their decision to dance on the holy ground.

Three members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, were arrested and eventually charged with hooliganism. All but one served almost two years in a labor prison despite international outrage and cries for their release.

The performance was not the first time Pussy Riot made headlines, though it was the first time they received so much international attention. The group also took to Red Square on the day President Vladimir Putin was inaugurated and sang “Putin has Pissed Himself.”

“Uprising in Russia! We exist! Uprising in Russia! Riot! Riot! Take to the streets! Occupy Red Square, show them your freedom!” the girls screamed atop the Lobnoye Mesto dais.

The film details the beginnings of Pussy Riot and follows the trial of Tolokonikova, Alyokhina and Samutsevich. Though the filmmakers, Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin, appear to be mostly sympathetic toward Pussy Riot, they do try to balance the story by showing the Orthodox Church in the aftermath of the performance and the historical reasons why so many were offended.

All in all, “Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer” is an exciting and in-depth survey of the social and political status of Russia and how it affects the people within its borders. With so many stories in the papers and on television discussing the relations between Russia and Ukraine, it is refreshing to see Russian citizens’ take on Putin.

Even though the screening was canceled, Socrates Sculpture Park announced they will reschedule it. Those interested in seeing the film can check the park’s website for updates.

All summer, Socrates Sculpture Park screens international films from countries including Senegal and France.

In addition, most of the screenings feature a live music performance before the film and cultural cuisine from nearby restaurants to get viewers in the spirit.

Outdoor Cinema

When: Wednesdays, 7 p.m., through Aug. 20

Where: Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Blvd., Astoria

Tickets: Free, socratessculpturepark.org

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