Russian hockey player Viacheslav Fetisov

Russian hockey player Viacheslav Fetisov

Documentary Red Army is a power play of Cold War politics and hockey

A hit at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, Red Army focusses on the USSR hockey team and its rivalries with Canada and the U.S.

The Vernon Film Society has just finished another well attended film festival and is now back to the regular showings for the spring season.

The next movie, Monday at the Towne Cinema, is documentary Red Army.

A hit at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, the film is a must for all hockey lovers and those who look back on the Cold War battles between east and west, which was played out in sports as much as in international politics.

Red Army reveals one of the most colourful chapters of this history, focusing on the Soviet hockey team and its rivalries with Canada and the U.S. At the center of the story is Viacheslav Alexandrovich “Slava” Fetisov, one of the greatest players to experience the highs and lows of Soviet hockey prior to the USSR’s collapse.

He stood up to a powerful system and paved the way for Russian players to change their circumstances.

As Soviet communism gave way to global capitalism, the lure of NHL money unravelled the legendary team known as the Red Army, which had been famed for a graceful style of play that emphasized co-operation and team work. When its players entered the NHL, they had to grapple with a more individualistic style, along with Red Scare-fuelled prejudice.

You don’t need to be a hockey fan to get swept up in this story of friendship and divided loyalties. In his feature documentary, debut director Gabe Polsky draws poignant interviews from key figures of the era, including Fetisov, his teammates and NHL coach Scotty Bowman.

Highlighting the dramatic stories on and off the ice, the director documents an interchange across the historical east-west divide that shows we still have a lot to learn about each other. Reopening this history makes for one of the most widely appealing documentaries of the year.

Red Army will be shown at the Vernon Towne Cinema at 5:15 and 7:45 p.m. Monday, March 16. All tickets are $7, available now at the Bean Scene and the Towne box office.