Documentary. 63 min.
In Russian, English and Hebrew with English subtitles.
Leningrad, 1970. A group of 11 young Jewish dissidents, denied exit visas after the Soviet Union cut diplomatic ties with Israel after the Six Day War, plot to hijack an empty plane and escape to Sweden, bound for Israel. This was not a decision made lightly, as to apply for an exit visa, the applicants (and often their entire families) would have to quit their jobs, which in turn would make them vulnerable to charges of social parasitism, a criminal offense. Under the disguise of a trip to a local family wedding, the hijackers buy every ticket on a small 12-seater plane, so there are be no passengers but them, no innocents in harm’s way. Caught by the KGB a few steps from boarding, most are sentenced to years in the gulag. Two are sentenced to death. Their efforts draw international attention to human rights violations and result in 300,000 Jews being allowed to leave the USSR by the end of the decade. Almost 50 years later, filmmaker Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov reveals the compelling story of her parents, leaders of the group, called “heroes” in the West but “terrorists” in Russia, even today.
Director: Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov
Composers: Karlis Auzans and Didi Erez
Zalmanson-Kuznetsov has created the definitive tale of the Leningrad hijacking, and in the process, humanized the larger-than-life characters behind it. It’s hard not to pepper descriptions of the film with superlatives like heroic and courageous. It’s equally hard to stay dry-eyed throughout.
Special Guest: Anat Zalmanson-Kuznelsov
Who better to tell the story of an incident that ultimately changed the fate of hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews than the daughter of Sylva Zalmanson and Eduard Kuznetsov, Refusenik leaders persecuted and jailed by the government of the FSU for years after Operation Wedding took place and they were able to reunite in Israel. This is Anat’s first film.