On Oct. 4, we were on the red carpet for the New York Film Festival premiere of “Inherent Vice” presented by Hugo Boss. We had the opportunity to speak with “Red Army” director Gabe Polsky and world famous hockey star Slava Fetisov at the event. The Soviet Union’s Red Army team was the most successful dynasty in sports history. Players, trained from a young age, were stronger and more skillful than any others in the world and were meant to show up the West at every opportunity. The film was executive produced by Jerry Weintraub and Werner Herzog.
Tell us about your film.
Gabe: It’s called the “Red Army.” It’s the story of the Soviet Union and the greatest sports dynasty in history, the Red Army hockey team. It’s really a story about friendship and betrayal, the nature of patriotism, a story about Russia and Russians in the past, present and future. Beyond grandiose ideologies and political abstractions, it’s the story of the human soul.
What inspired you to tell this story?
Gabe: I was really inspired by the creative style of hockey that the Soviets played but when I looked deeper into this story, I found that the story is way beyond hockey and hockey is simply a window into a much larger story about the Soviet Union and Russia, the Russian people and the Russian soul and I found that very interesting.
Why did you decide to become a documentary filmmaker?
Gabe: I’ve always been interested in documentary filmmaking. It’s a little bit more real than fictional films. Sometimes, real characters give you a much more interesting story. I always liked that, I like the medium. I made a film before called “His Way,” that was nominated for an Emmy and I wanted to make a documentary.
Polsky, a child of Soviet immigrants who grew up playing hockey in the United States, told this fascinating story through Red Army team captain Slava Fetisov. Fetisov is among the Soviet Union’s most-decorated athletes, and he is considered one the best hockey players of all time. He was the long-time captain of the Soviet Union’s Red Army team, won seven world championships, two Olympic gold medals, and three Stanley Cups.
How excited are you to be bringing this film to New York Film Festival?
Slava: I’m so happy to be here in New York to be part of the celebration.
Tell us about your role in the documentary?
Slava: I was part of this team, the Red Army, I was captain of this team for many years, and my life story was part of this movie.
What was it like to have this film made about your life?
Slava: It’s not the first time, but the director made it in an American way, it’s like a thriller, like a story that keeps you from the first minute they suck you in and keep you until to last second and I’m so happy to be part of this project and of course it’s a big responsibility when somebody makes a movie about your life. I’m pretty excited right now.
How did you beome a hockey player?
Slava: It happened in Moscow and I was like all the kids in the Soviet Union at the time, playing different sports. I was lucky to at age 14 to cross the ocean and play in Canada against the same aged kids from the Canadian-Ontario leagues. When I saw that fourteen thousand fans come to the games, I felt it was a big difference than what I was experiencing in my country, and I wanted to be part of this for the rest of my life. That’s why I turned out to be hockey player.
“Red Army” opens in New York on Nov. 14, 2014.