Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sundance Films: My Perestroika

Title: My Perestroika
Director: Robin Hessman

Summary: The Bolshevik revolution, the cold war, and the collapse of the Soviet Union defined the history of the twentieth century. With such a past, what does it mean to be Russian today? Robin Hessman's lovingly crafted documentary, My Perestroika, adopts the idea of the “everyman story,” suggesting that the unheralded lives of the last generation of Soviets to grow up behind the iron curtain hold the key to understanding the contradictions of modern Russia from the inside out. Crafted during five years of researching and shooting, and based on almost a decade of living in Russia in the 1990s, Hessman's film poetically interweaves an extraordinary trove of home movies, Soviet propaganda films, and intimate access to five schoolmates whose linked, but very different, histories offer a moving portrait of newly middle-class Russians living lives they could never have imagined when they were growing up (Sundance).

Thoughts: I find these “everyman” documentaries that are popping up of late truly appealing. Errol Morris was the master of turning the unknowns or unliked into fascinating examinations everyone could relate to. Perhaps this is what I hope for in Robin Hessman’s My Perestroika. Most of us know the big picture elements of the collapse of the Soviet Union, but very few understand the personal triumphs and tragedies resulting from this major event. This could be a simple but illuminating story worth catching.

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