'Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer' Kickstarts HBO's Summer Documentary Series

Long live Pussy Riot. The Russian feminist collective-cum-girl band was arrested in February 2012 when they stormed Moscow's largest cathedral, Christ the Saviour, shrouded in neon balaclavas and, much to the horror of the priest and congregation, started shouting "Virgin birth-giver of God, become a feminist!" They were escorted out within 40 seconds. Praise. Tonight, more than a year after the incident, HBO's summer documentary series begins with Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, co-directed by Maxim Pozdorovkin and Mike Lerner, which follows the trial of pussy rioters Nadya Tolokonnikova, Masha Alyokhina, and Katya Samutsevich.

Early reviews of the documentary note that the film focuses on the background of the three bad bitches that were arrested on charges of "hooliganism fueled by religious hatred." HOOLIGANISM! If Pussy Riot's performance wasn't a statement enough about the oppressive censorship of Putin's regime, his response certainly is. Perhaps the most striking image from Pussy Riot's notorious trial is that of the three women sitting in a glass cage in the courtroom smiling.

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer is sure not only to refuel the debate about censorship in the arts but also make us think about free speech as a human right. As someone who loves and participates in th arts, I am of the opinion that censorship is a death sentence to progress. Pussy Riot suffered and were persecuted for speaking freely. Is it an artist's obligation to speak out for those who can't? Absolutely. 

In an amazing Q&A with the Huffington Post, Pussy Riot member Katya Samutsevich (who is still on suspended-release from prison) says of the documentary: "(T)he story calls for many films to be made, dealing with Russian history, thinking about what happened during the fall of the Soviet Union, what happened with Putin's coming to power and the development of the Moscow Patriarchy. And subsequently the birth of the opposition." The conversation has to continue. Keep pussy rioting for those who can't. 

"Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer" premieres tonight on HBO at 9 ET/PT.

Image: Getty Images

Must Reads