International Film Feast

(Above source: Vimeo trailer for ‘Double Life, a Short History of Sex in the USSR’)

Many believe Donald Trump only became President of the US thanks to the help of Vladimir Putin. But how did Putin become President of Russia?

You can find out in How Putin Came to Power, one of 13 “Films from Russia” premiering this week on subscription arthouse streamer  

How Putin Came to Power, a one-hour 2005 documentary, looks at a power struggle between Russia’s ruling oligarchs and a behind-the-scenes deal that elevated Putin first to prime minister in August 2009 and then to the presidency just four months later., March, How Putin Came to Power

The film uses archival footage, a clandestine blackmail video, recordings of government meetings, and interviews with Kremlin insiders to reveal such juicy details as how Putin demonstrated his value to “The Family,” aka the relatives and wealthy businessmen around then-President Boris Yeltsin.

Other “Films from Russia” include the following, both premiering tomorrow, March 6:

The Road Movie, a one-hour 2016 compilation of footage shot entirely by dashboard cameras.

Double Life, a Short History of Sex in the USSR, a one-hour 2017 documentary looking at sexuality in the Soviet Union from the October Revolution of 1917 to the fall of Communism in 1991. “The country said that sex didn’t exist…but the instinct to reproduce had managed to survive.”

While on that subject of Communist sex, another 17 premieres this month will include Do Communists Have Better Sex? on Thursday, March 19. This one-hour 2006 German documentary examines how post World War II West Germans and East Germans differed in the bedroom. You may well be surprised at which side won the sexual Hot War. isn’t just documentaries. March, for example, will bring the following three international dramas starring celebrated actors:

The Pillow Book (EU, 1996, debuting Thursday, March 12). A Japanese woman with a fetish for calligraphy on the human body meets her ideal soulmate (Ewan McGregor), an English translator.

Midaq Alley (Mexico, 1995, debuting Friday, March 13). In this ensemble film about people whose lives cross in Mexico City, Salma Hayek plays Alma, who becomes a high-end prostitute. Based on a novel by Egyptian Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz, Midaq Alley won Mexico’s equivalent of the Oscar.

Edward II (UK/Japan, 1991, debuting Friday March 20). Tilda Swinton plays Queen Isabella, formerly a French princess, in this version of the Christopher Marlowe play. She’s spurned by her husband, British King Edward II, who has an affair with ambitious Piers Gaveston. Things go downhill for the gay couple from there. will be showing a new restoration of the film.

How to Stream

All the above films will be on, which costs $6.99 per month or $69.99 annually, both with a seven-day free trial. The service can be streamed online or via Fire TV, RokuiOS and Android devices. For more info, visit

The Road Movie is also available to Amazon Prime and Shudder subscribers; on free library-linked streamer Kanopy; free, with ads, on PopcornFlix; or for $3.99 from several providers.

Double Life, a Short History of Sex in the USSR is also available for $2.99 from Vimeo.

Do Communists Have Better Sex? is also available from Amazon: $2.99 for Prime subscribers, and $3.99 for non-subscribers.

The Pillow Book is also available to Criterion Channel subscribers, on free library-linked streamer Hoopla, or from $2.99 at various providers.

Edward II is also available to subscribers of Amazon Prime’s Mubi add-on channel; on free library-linked streamer Kanopy; free, with ads, on Tubi; for 99 cents if you’re a non-Mubi Amazon Prime member; or for $1.99 from Amazon or iTunes.

About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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