DocEdge 2011: My Perestroika

My Perestroika
USA/UK | 2010 | Dir. Robin Hessman | Russian | 88 mins.

“Perestroika,” in its traditional political sense, refers to the programme of (economic) restructuring in the former Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev which began in 1989. Followed by “Glasnost” (“openness”) and other reforms, Perestroika signalled, among other changes, the fall of the former Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. The accompanying abrupt shift from Socialism to capitalism was unprecedented; its long-lasting ramifications reverberated through the next two decades and are still being felt today. A tremendously well-weaved tale of life during and after the USSR, this documentary profiles five childhood classmates who came of age as the Iron Curtain fell. Indoctrinated with Communist ideology at a young age, they were forced to reconcile the beliefs they had been taught with the seismic economic, political and social shifts that occurred around them. A bracing critique of a society still reeling from decades-old reforms told from a collective personal-historical viewpoint, the film makes history tangible by marrying its subjects’ intimate recollections to 16-mm home-movie footage and propagandist material from their shared childhood and adolescences.