Red Penguins

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Red Penguins
Directed byGabe Polsky
Produced byGabe Polsky
Written byGabe Polsky
Music byLeo Birenberg
CinematographyAlexey Elagin
Edited byChristina Stiles
Release date
Running time
CountryUSA, Russia

Red Penguins is a 2019 American-Russian documentary film directed, written, and produced by Gabe Polsky and in co-production with Studio Hamburg Enterprises and Norddeutscher Rundfunk.[1] The film held its premiere on September 5th, 2019 at the Toronto International Film Festival.[2]

The film uses archival footage and features the Gogol Bordello song “Start Wearing Purple”.[1]


The film highlights the link between sports and politics in US-Russian relations. The project came about after Steven Warshaw, the main subject of the film, sent Polsky a large box of documents and videotapes about the marketing venture after seeing Polsky’s previous film, Red Army.[3]


The film features interviews with a wide cast of characters involved with the Russian Penguins team, and early 1990s Russian culture. Production occurred in both the US and Russia.

  • Steven Warshaw- was the Pittsburgh Penguins marketing man in charge on the ground in Moscow.
  • Howard Baldwin- is the former owner and president of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Baldwin got into the business of Hockey in the 1970s, when he founded the Hartford Whalers at 28. He is also an Oscar nominated film producer of films including Ray, Sudden Death, and Mystery, Alaska.
  • Tom Ruta- was the CFO and Co-Owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the Russian Penguins Venture.
  • Valery Gushin- is the former General Manager of the Russian Penguins Hockey team. He had a reputation as a heavy drinking General Manager who cared only about business.
  • Viktor Tikhonov- was a famed Soviet ice hockey player and coach, best known as the head coach of the Soviet national team when it was the most dominant team in the world. He was the head coach of CSKA Moscow during the Red Penguins venture.
  • Victor Gusev- was the Vice President of Media and Public Relations for the Russian Penguins. He is now one of the lead anchor men for Channel 1 in Moscow.
  • Alimzhan Tokhtakhunov- is an infamous Russian Businessman now living in Russia in safe harbor. He remains wanted in the United States.
  • Alexander Lyubimov- One of the most famous TV Personalities in Russia. His show Vzglyad broke from the Traditional Soviet news format and offered a more progressive view on Post-Soviet Russia. He reported on the chaos and uncertainty of Moscow in the 1990s firsthand.
  • Vladislav Listyev- was a famed Russian journalist and head of the ORT TV Channel (now Channel One).


Red Penguins made its international debut at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival to critical acclaim.[4] It was also screened at the Philadelphia International Film Festival[5], DOC NYC[6], Palm Springs Film Festival[7], and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival[8].


Red Penguins was one of the best reviewed films of 2019, maintaining a 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes[9].

Pete Hammond of Deadline called the film “A remarkable-- and funny-- documentary that seems ripe for a quick pickup and entry into this year’s documentary feature race”.[10] Dennis Harvey of Variety called it, “ A very entertaining feature… Its assembly is always lively, aimed at engaging viewers with or without any interest in hockey. It’s a fun movie.”[11]

In the media



  1. 1.0 1.1 Red Penguins, retrieved 2020-03-04
  2. Harris, Hunter (2019-08-13). "Natalie Portman's Astronaut Movie and More Added to TIFF Lineup". Vulture. Retrieved 2020-03-04.
  3. "'Red Penguins' Documentary Director Nearly Threw Away 'Treasure Trove' of Material (Video)". TheWrap. 2019-09-20. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  4. "Red Penguins". TIFF. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  5. "RED PENGUINS". Philadelphia Film Society. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  6. "RED PENGUINS". DOCNYC. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  7. "31st Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Announces Festival Line-Up | Palm Springs International Film Festival". Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  8. Albright, Michael (2020-01-12). "Red Penguins". SBIFF. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  9. Red Penguins (2019), retrieved 2020-03-05
  10. Hammond, Pete; Hammond, Pete (2019-09-05). "Toronto: A Massive Lineup Of Oscar Contenders, But Is There Another 'Green Book' Waiting To Surprise?". Deadline. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  11. Harvey, Dennis; Harvey, Dennis (2019-09-20). "Toronto Film Review: 'Red Penguins'". Variety. Retrieved 2020-03-05.

External links

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