FC Member Lucy Egisserian: Giving Voice to the Silenced

February 15, 2019

Looking back on what inspired her to make her first documentary film, Lucy Egisserian recalls volunteering at the Salem Film Festival in 2012. There was something about the energy of the filmmakers, the eclectic and entertaining variety of films, and the passionate devotion to documentary films on the part of the audience that inspired and motivated her.

It would be another few years before events in Russia, a country she knew of first-hand, captured her attention. Boris Nemtsov, a political leader who came to prominence during the time of perestroika in Russia during the late 1980s and early 1990s. His was to be the one of the leading voices of a newly liberated Russia as an embrace of Western values and freedoms seemed imminent. Then, came the rise of Vladimir Putin and the snuffing out of those nascent flames of freedom. More and more, Nemtsov found himself in the crosshairs of Putin’s regime as a leader of those opposed to his increasingly autocratic ways. Nemtsov was silenced for good in February 2015 by an assassin’s bullet. At the time of his death, he was a vocal detractor of Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, Lucy Egisserian’s homeland.

Lucy grew up in Odessa, a city steeped in rich cultural and artistic tradition. After graduating from Odessa’s Art and Design Technical College with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, she moved to Moscow where she studied Stage Production and Technology at The Moscow Art Theater School – the premier theater arts school in the country. There, she received a Master’s Degree in Stage Production and produced multiple shows, both in the capital and provinces.

She moved to the United States in 1991 with an uncertain immigration status, no connections, limited English, and only $800.00 in her pocket. Her determination to build a new life for herself led her explore new passions and to develop new skills. After a few years, she was steeped in world of corporate digital communications, working in the tech industry as a User Experience Designer/Web Information Architect. Her circumstances had improved dramatically over the span of 15 years. She had everything she ever wanted, but still felt something was missing in her life.  Then, she attended the Salem Film Festival.

Shortly after volunteering at the festival and after more than a decade in the corporate world, Lucy went back to her creative roots and discovered film. Not just any type of film, but documentaries. Documentaries became her new love. They allowed her to express her passion for the human condition without the need for actors. Placing her faith in her drive to tell stories she felt the world needed to hear, she left her lucrative career for the uncertain but rewarding future of independent filmmaking.

While producing promos, instructional, educational and personal events videos, Lucy sought out a story that would inspire a new generation to rise up and lead. Then Boris Nemtsov was assassinated. Lucy’s life had come full circle.  

She now knew of the story she would be compelled to tell. It would involve the hopes of her “perestroika” generation for freedom and democracy, Russia returning to “evil empire” status, and sacrifices a physicist made for democracy. “Not Your Average Citizen,” Lucy’s documentary, is her way of telling the world that we cannot sit on the sidelines anymore as courageous voices are silenced and strongmen seek to turn back the clock on freedoms.

With much of the shooting and production completed, Lucy is now working on securing the funding necessary to both produce a “work sample” for potential sponsors and to get the film down to a length that would allow submission into film festivals. Learn more about the film and Lucy’s fundraising efforts. https://filmmakerscollab.org/films/film-3