Review: ‘My Perestroika’

A sort of "7 Through 35 Up" experienced from the other side of the Cold War.

A sort of “7 Through 35 Up” experienced from the other side of the Cold War, Robin Hessman’s ingratiating “My Perestroika” uses five Muscovites as a microcosm of the monumental societal changes undergone from the U.S.S.R.’s communist twilight years to today’s quasi-democratic capitalism. Robin Hessman’s debut feature is a documentary of considerable charm and nonjudgmental insight. It’s skedded for PBS broadcast next year, with fest travel and offshore sales (primarily tube) assured in the interim.

Protags were childhood friends in the last generation to get full Soviet indoctrination as they grew up — reaching adulthood just as the entire system dissolved. Only Andrei has benefitted from economic liberalization, launching a chain of shops selling Western luxury menswear. Schoolteacher parents Borya and Lyuba Meyerson live in a cramped inherited apartment but consider themselves lucky to have it. Single mother Olga Durikova ekes out a living as rep for a billiards table company. Ruslan is off the grid entirely; having quit a famous, still-extant 1990s punk band in protest toward its commercialization, he busks and works under-the-table. Homemovies and vintage propagandic footage fill out this lovingly crafted pic’s engrossing progress.

My Perestroika



A Red Square Prods., Bungalow Town Prods. (U.K.)/ITVS Intl. (U.S.) production in association with American Documentary/POV and YLE Finland. Produced by Robin Hessman, Rachel Wexler. Executive producers, Simon Kilmurry, Sally Jo Fifer. Directed by Robin Hessman.


Camera (color/B&W, 8mm/35mm/DV-to-HD), Hessman; editors, Alla Kovgan, Garret Savage; music, Lev Zhurbin. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 25, 2010. Running time: 87 MIN.


Olga Durikova, Borya Meyerson, Lyuba Meyerson, Mark Meyerson, Ruslan Stupin, Andrei Yevgrafov.

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