My Perestroika (2011)
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When the USSR broke apart in 1991, a generation of young people faced a new realm of possibilities. An intimate epic about the extraordinary lives of this last Soviet generation, Robin Hessman's feature documentary debut tells the stories of five Moscow schoolmates who were brought up behind the Iron Curtain, witnessed the joy and confusion of glasnost, and reached adulthood right as the world changed around them. Through candid first-person testimony, revealing verité footage, and vintage home movies, Hessman, who spent many years living in Moscow, reveals a Russia rarely ever seen on film, where people are frank about their lives and forthcoming about their country. Engaging, funny, and positively inspiring, in MY PERESTROIKA politics is personal, honesty overshadows ideology, and history progresses one day, one life at a time. -- (C) International Film Circuit
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Critic Reviews for My Perestroika
My Perestroika has the quality of a candid conversation with long-lost cousins from another country.
Like all of us, they are looking back on the best and most brilliant times of youth. It's a universal longing that knows no politics.
"My Perestroika" is specific to Russia, of course, but the juvenile certainty and conformity it chronicles seem universal.
It not only evocatively captures the Russian spirit and the yearnings of a generation, but it also masterfully chronicles the historic collapse of the Soviet Union and its complex aftermath.
The openness of these people is often astonishing -- and a sign of hope.
Audience Reviews for My Perestroika
Fascinating doc follows a group of Russian schoolmates who came of age just as the USSR dissolved, now parents themselves. Juxtaposes footage of their Soviet childhood with the modern upbringing of their own kids, finding haunting parallels. It's an engaging inside look at the social upheaval behind the iron curtain, and how it affected its last generation. Everything comes full circle, and we are left wondering just how much has really changed.
"My Perestroika" is an insightful documentary that takes a personal approach to recent history in the Soviet Union and Russia, seen through the eyes of five former classmates, an entrepreneur, a manager, married teachers and a street musician who have all gone in different directions in their lives. Sadly, there is also a little too much emphasis on very cute kids.(I love how the kids in the old Soviet Union would read books to get information. Those same kids, now grown up, complain about the kids not reading that much nowadays.) From the black and white archival and home movies shot during the 1980's, suddenly with a few exceptions, there is color footage after Brezhnev's passing, and the new world of the Gorbachev years. Change came in rapid bursts. As one person says, it felt like he came back to an entirely different country after he got out of the army in 1986. Suddenly there were punk rockers which could only be a sign of the end.(Kidding!) Gone are the propaganda posters of the old regime, replaced by advertisements for all sorts of products from the west, now available. The only possible exception is the ad for the Putin/Medvedev campaign. Then, there are also signs of history working in a cycle, as the past might not seem so dissimilar after all. Chechnya replaces Afghanistan(neither are mentioned) while terrorism replaces nuclear drills.(While we had duck and cover here in the states, they had gas masks.) After all is said and done, the mood of the citizens, having seen everything, is cynical, not conformist.
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