Winner 2011

POV: My Perestroika

American Documentary/POV/Red Square Productions, Bungalow Town Productions, ITVS International in association with YLE

Russia’s uneasy transition away from communism after the Soviet Union’s collapse is illuminated from the inside out in this engrossing, deeply humane, at times haunting documentary. Filmmaker Robin Hessman extensively interviewed five adults who were schoolmates in Moscow in the 1970s and ‘80s. Borya and Lyuba, a married couple, are teachers. Andrei imports men’s shirts from France and has a growing string of stores. Ruslan, a musician, plays guitar and blues harp for tips in the subway and lives off the books. Olga, a client rep for a company that sells billiard tables, spends most of her wearying days in her car, fighting traffic. Hessman masterfully blends their remembrances with their personal photos and home movies and TV-news footage of changing times. To varying degrees, they’re all wistful about the old, orderly system, notwithstanding the corruption and deceit they came to despise, and anxious about the current, free-market framework. They see opportunity, the possibility of improving their lots, but they feel insecure, unprotected. They smoke incessantly. The film is essential to understanding Russia as it was, is and might become, but it also provides fresh perspectives on Western societies worth serious discussion. For making Russia’s historic economic and political shift personal and poignant, POV: My Perestroika receives a Peabody Award.


Executive Producer: Simon Kilmurry. Co-Executive Producer: Cynthia Lopez. Producers: Robin Hessman, Rachel Wexler. Director: Robin Hessman. Writer: Robin Hessman. Editors: Alla Kovgan, Garret Savage