Kostya Proletarsky

On 19 June 2009 Kostya Proletarsky, a drug user and HIV activist, died of tuberculosis meningitis at the Botkin Hospital in St. Petersburg, Russia. His death was the result of three years of mistreatment and torture at the prison facility No. 4 in Karelia, Russia. In Russia, where drug treatment is barely available, imprisonment becomes the main “solution” to the problem of drug addiction. But unfortunately, these institutions don’t cure. Instead, prisons kill. The animated hand drawn documentary, featuring the original audio interview with Kostya and his mother, Irina, aims to commemorate Kostya Proletarsky and many others who have not survived prison systems around the world.

  • István Gábor Takács
  • István Gábor Takács
  • Anya Sarang
  • Péter Sárosi
  • Kostya Proletarsky
    Key Cast
  • Irina Proletarskaya
    Key Cast
  • Anya Sarang
    Key Cast
  • Lili Rontó
  • Anya Sarang
  • Dániel Huszár
    Animation advisor
  • Bence Dóczi
    Audio and music mastering
  • Tamás Bohács
    Audio and music mastering
  • András Kiss
    Pilot audio mastering
  • Péter Wagner-Puskás
    Pilot audio mastering
  • Daryl Sullivan
    English language proofreading
  • Gergő Tisza
    End credit song guitar
  • Magda Major
    Head of administration
  • Anastasiya Apekhtina
    Interpreter and logistics
  • Katalin Sós
  • Alexandra Gurinova
  • Ferenc Herczeg
  • Igor Kuzmenko
  • Karina Worku
  • Alexey Kurmanaevskii
    Saint Petersburg location support
  • Katherina Zinger
    Saint Petersburg location support
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Костя Пролетарский
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    30 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    March 15, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    22,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Russian Federation
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Animation, FullHD
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - István Gábor Takács

István Gábor Takács is a human rights activist, videographer and trainer. He ran the Video Advocacy Program of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union between 2007-2015. He worked as a needle exchange program counselor for 5 years. He is author of several articles on harm reduction and cameraman, editor, director and co-director of more than 700 online videos, among them longer documentaries, such as ”A Day in the Life: The World of Humans Who Use Drugs” (2016), “Without Rights” (2009), “Without a Chance” (2014), “Room in the 8th District” (2014) and “The Invisible” (2011). His works have been awarded first prize multiple times at the Kreatív Webvideo Award for best online documentary, he and his colleagues received the Hégető Honorka Award acknowledging online and television work for marginalised populations in 2013, and the International Rolleston Award in 2017 for achievements in international harm reduction advocacy. Since 2016 he works at the Rights Reporter Foundation, where besides producing films, he is training activists in video advocacy.

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Director Statement

This animation film is a summary of what I as a human rights activists and my colleagues at the Rights Reporter Foundation have been fighting for in the last 15 years of our lives. The drama of Kostya and Irina touched me deeply, because it shows very clearly what is wrong in our societies when it comes to dealing with drug problems. Drugs can be harmful, but the policies to punish people who use drugs are deadly. And the tragedy of mothers of people with dependency all around the world is that they very often have nowhere else to turn for help but to the states, which instead of offering help, support and treatment, punishes their children, which very often leads to their deaths. With our short animation documentary we would like to show, that those drug users that are locked up and tortured, not only in Russia, but in many countries around the world, are in fact our own children and loved ones. It has been my dream to make this animation since 2009, when Anya Sarang gave us the audio recording she made with Kostya not long before his death, and when we Interviewed Kostya's mother Irina. Since then we wanted to turn the recordings into an animated documentary film. It was only in 2016 when we finally found the right person to do the animation, Lili Rontó. She is an acclaimed Hungarian graphic artist and painter, who made all the drawings, background and character design for the animation film by hand, frame by frame. I edited the film and made the sound design, and except for one song, we made the music together as well. It took us 3 years to finish the animation and now we can hardly wait to show it to audiences around the world.