KOSTYA PROLETARSKY

The Animated Movie

The Story

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. The animated movie is produced by the Rights Reporter Foundation, narrated by Anya Sarang, directed by István Gábor Takács, and is hand drawn frame by Lili Rontó.

The Trailer

We need your support to finish the full 30 minute long animation!

Please support the production of the film with any amount you feel appropriate!

The total amount of production is 32,000 US Dollars.
This includes hand drawn animation, character design, directing, editing, sound engineering, animation, russian drug policy and human rights counseling, music production and basic distribution costs (website, online promotion, festival nominations).

What do you get for your kind support?

  • If you support the film, you will receive a code to unlock the 7 minute long pilot version of the animation.
  • If you agree, your name will be included in the end credits of the film.
  • As the film is ready, you can watch it on a private link.
  • The film is not for profit, we do not sell it after completion. We will submit the film to film festivals, and after that we make the full film available online.


May you have any question, or if you are a donor and would like to support our film with a bigger amount, please contact István Gábor Takács at takacsistvangabor@rightsreporter.net!

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Rights Reporter Foundation
IBAN: HU19 1176 3134 3030 6017 0000 0000
SWIFT: OTPVHUHB
OTP Bank Nyrt., 1051 Budapest, Nádor u. 16.
11763134-30306017

Pictures from the Film

More Information on the Story

On 19 June 2009 at 6 o’clock in the evening, Kostya Proletarsky, a drug user and HIV activist died of tuberculosis meningitis at the Botkin Hospital of Infectious Diseases in St. Petersburg, Russia. His death was the result of three years of mistreatment at the prison facility No. 4 in Karelia, close to the Arctic Polar Circle in Russia.

In the prison camp, Kostya was denied the right to continue his HIV medication. Inmates, locked up at the so called Turbo-HIV ward (where HIV positive people who were infected with Tuberculosis were isolated) were regularly beaten and tortured. As punishment and to teach them ‘who’s the boss,’ guards often spilled 30 litres of bleach mixed with ammonia onto the floor of the closed cell, to suffocate people. For giving someone the address of the HIV clinic in St. Petersburg, Kostya was punished severely. Guards put a gas mask on his head, with 1.5 litres of ammonia attached to the bottom. These are just a few examples of the cruel and degrading treatment he and his fellow inmates had to suffer.

In Russia, where methadone substitution is banned, drug treatment is ineffective, and rehabilitation is barely available to poor people, imprisonment becomes the main “solution” to the problem of drug addiction. But unfortunately, prisons don’t cure. They cannot replace the quality drug treatment and social support that help people to deal with the problems behind their drug dependency. Instead, prisons kill.

Upon Kostya’s release in 2008, harm reduction and human rights expert Anya Sarang recorded an audio interview with Kostya in the hospital, in which he provided testimony of the unimaginable horrors occurring at the prison camp. Later in 2009 the Drugreporter team interviewed Irina Proletarsky, Kostya’s mother, in which she talked about the life of her son, and about their fight to beat Kostya’s addiction to heroin.

Since then our plan has been to produce an animated documentary, using the original audio interviews of Kostya and Irina, to raise awareness and to commemorate Kostya Proletarsky and many others who hadn’t survived the Russian prison system.

Now we have are working on the 30 minute film with Hungarian artist Lili Rontó. She is hand-drawing the animated film frame by frame. A 7 minute pilot versin is ready, which can be viewed if you support our work!

The Production Team

Animation, background and character design, music: Lili Rontó
Directing, screenplay, camera, editing and music: István Gábor Takács
Producer: Péter Sárosi
Head of office: Magda Major
Animation advisor: Dániel Huszár
Audio engineer: Péter Wagner-Puskás
Music mixing: András Kiss
Narrator and text: Anya Sarang
Interpreter and logistics: Anastasiya Apekhtina
Translation: Katalin Sós, Alexandra Gurinova, Herczeg Ferenc, Igor Kuzmenko, Karina Worku

The Authors

The Graphic Artist

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Lili Rontó is a Hungarian graphic artist. She earned her diploma at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts in 2003. She produces graphic art for the Hungarian Institute for Educational Research and Development and the Academy Publishing House and other book publishers. She produces album covers, poster designs, animation clips, logos and many more. Her unique style of drawing and painting has been recognized at several exhibitions. She also produces the music with István Gábor Takács for the animated documentary. You can find a selection of her art here

The Director

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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.

The Producer

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Péter Sárosi is the Executive Director of the Rights Reporter Foundation. He is a human rights activist and drug policy expert, the founder and editor of the Drugreporter website since 2004, the author of countless articles, co-author of books and director of films about harm reduction and drug policy reform. He was the Director of the Drug Policy Program at the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union between 2004 and 2015. He is experienced in working at international drug policy forums such as the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. He was twice elected to the Core Group of the EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs. He is the co-chair of the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network. He has been representing the Hungarian Harm Reduction Network at the government’s drug advisory body in Hungary since 2007. Peter also contributed to building a network of advocacy NGOs in Europe: the European Drug Policy Initiative. He provided technical assistance to several NGOs, and launched several campaigns on drug policy reform. As a member of the Drugreporter video advocacy team, he has produced videos about drug policy issues in a number of countries. These videos are now part of a unique online drug policy video library.

The Rights Reporter Foundation

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The Rights Reporter Foundation (RRF) is a non-profit organisation founded by Hungarian activists to advocate for the human rights of vulnerable populations. We use the power of video for community mobilisation and advocacy campaigning. Our vision is of a society where policies affecting vulnerable communities are evidence-informed and respect human rights, as well as developed and implemented with the meaningful involvement of these communities. The main focus of our work is on people who use drugs, sex workers and people who live with HIV, but we are glad to work with other stigmatised communities, such as LMBTQ people, ethnic minorities, migrants, refugees and homeless people. Our mission is to educate the public about the role of evidence in policy formulation, to provide a voice for vulnerable communities, and to improve the advocacy efforts of NGOs by providing technical assistance and training.