Toronto director Daniel Roher’s documentary ‘Navalny’ wins Oscar

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A documentary about an imprisoned Russian opposition leader directed by Canadian Daniel Roher has won an Oscar.

The best documentary feature prize went to “Navalny,” an investigative look into the poisoning of Alexei Navalny.

“I would like to dedicate this award to ‘Navalny’ to all political prisoners around the world. Alexei — the world has not forgotten your vital message to us all. We cannot, we must not be afraid to oppose dictators and authoritarianism wherever it rears its head,” Roher said on stage.

“To the Navalny family, thank you for your courage. The world is with you.”

Joining Roher and the crew on stage was Navany’s wife, Yulia.

“My husband is in prison just for defending democracy. Alexei, I’m dreaming of the day when you will be free and our country will be free. Stay strong my love.”

Roher followed Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner, and his team as they tried to piece together who was behind his poisoning with a nerve agent in 2020.

“Navalny” is both a look into Navalny’s attackers but also a plea to his supporters to apply pressure on the Kremlin in the event of his prolonged imprisonment.

Roher won alongside Odessa Rae, Diane Becker, Melanie Miller and fellow Canadian Shane Boris.

Fellow nominees in the category included the Canada-U.S. co-production “Fire of Love,” which was co-produced by Boris; “All that Breathes”; “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed”; and “A House Made of Splinters.”

In an interview ahead of the awards, Roher said all the attention the film is getting has been “bittersweet,” but he hopes that the spotlight will help keep Navalny alive.

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