The Rise of Wagner

Hot Docs Festival Presents
  • silhouette of a person sitting by curtains
  • man walking beside a blurred building
  • river with buildings and a highway on either side
  • man sits in front of a conference table
  • fancy, Russian buildings


Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema Thu, Sep 28, 2023 6:30 PM
Film Info
Country Listing:France
Cast/Crew Info
Director(s):Benoit Bringer


Officially, the Wagner Group does not exist. The paramilitary organization, a de facto private army of Russian President Vladimir Putin, deploys soldiers-for-hire anywhere Russia’s interest in natural resources is compromised—Libya, Mozambique, Syria, Ukraine.

Its design as a spiderweb of overlapping ownership and logistic networks has made taking legal action against its infamous human rights violations impossible—until now. In this searing exposé, the horrific beheading of Syrian detainee Mohammed Taha-al Ismail by Wagner mercenaries is being brought before the courts.

Circulated widely on YouTube, the graphic war-crime video is analyzed by intrepid journalists and investigators, who uncover not only the identities of the suspects but also other inhumanity being committed elsewhere in the world. Terrifying and urgent in light of Wagner’s current presence in Ukraine, this investigative film sheds important light on the big business behind dirty wars.

Film note by Hot Docs programmer Myrocia Watamaniuk.

In French with English subtitles.

Tickets: $15 | FREE for members! Under 25? Get your FREE Bronze membership 

View our health & safety measures here.