It almost sounded like a good word about ISIS as filmmaker Bryan Fogel compared the tactics of the Russian Government with respect to whistleblowers, to the terrorists we know and fear at the final evening in the HIFF Summerdocs series at Guild Hall. He was saying that when they off people, ISIS steps up and takes responsibility, even bragging about their actions. Not so the Russians: when key individuals suddenly and inexplicably die of a heart attack, suspect foul play. They practice denial to the hilt. Fogel’s film Icarus, now on Netflix is about doping in sports, officially sanctioned by governments to get the win, specifically at the Olympics. Why do we even have them? The question is chilling about an institution that has always stood for excellence.
Fogel’s protagonist is a Russian scientist named Grigory Rodchenkov, used by the Russians to help their athletes dope undetected, now in the Witness Protection Program somewhere in the US. As Fogel became passionate speaking about the Russians, and a correlative in our government leadership, it was hard not to think about the panel’s moderator stage left: Alec Baldwin and his famous SNL impersonation. And, in a bit of synergy, when we made it home to Montauk, we found a rerun of SNL featuring a caricature of the bare-chested Putin we had just seen in Icarus, with his famous shit-eating grin.