The Athletic’s Craig Custance engaged in a Q and A with The Russian Five’s director, Joshua Riehl:
Craig Custance: I saw the documentary at the world premiere and it was great. I’m not sure I’ve ever been part of a movie experience where the crowd kept breaking into loud cheers throughout the middle of the movie. What was it like to see that from your perspective?
Joshua Riehl: It was surreal. On the one hand, it kind of washed over me. Because I was like, ‘Is the aspect ratio good? How’s the sound here?’ Towards the second half of the film, and I was like, ‘This is playing well,’ I made it a point where I wanted to watch the brawl (vs. Avalanche) from the front of the theater, just so I could feel the crowd. It was really incredible. That is a rare experience for any filmmaker. My producers, who have done a lot of documentaries and a lot of films, are teasing me: ‘It’s your first feature doc, first premiere and it’ll never get any better the rest of your career. You started at the top of the mountain. Prepare for disappointment the rest of your life.’
Hopefully they’re wrong. The coolest thing is when Vladdy (Konstantinov) was acknowledged and the crowd gave him a cheer — ‘Vladdy! Vladdy!’ That’s kind of why I made the movie. That’s why I kept persevering over every obstacle, and there were so many of them. I had a vision of Vladdy at the premiere, the crowd chanting his name and him basking in the hometown love one more time. To realize that, it was the most amazing thing of the whole night.