Documentary considered by critics one of the best of films of the year
A screening of the documentary My Perestroika followed by a Q&A with director Robin Hessman will take place 7-10 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 19 in the Oechsle Hall auditorium, room 224, at Lafayette College.
The screening is free and open to the public.
My Perestroika follows five ordinary Russians living in extraordinary times — from their sheltered Soviet childhood, to the collapse of the Soviet Union during their teenage years, to the constantly shifting political landscape of post-Soviet Russia. Together, these childhood classmates paint a complex picture of the dreams and disillusionment of those raised behind the Iron Curtain.
Director Robin Hessman graduated from Brown University with a dual degree in Russian and film. She received her graduate degree in film directing from the All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in Moscow (with a “red diploma” of honors). She received an Academy Award in 1994 – with co-director James Longley – for their student film, Portrait of Boy with Dog.
During her eight years living in Russia, Hessman worked for the Children’s Television Workshop as the on-site producer of Ulitsa Seza, the original Russian-language Sesame Street. In the U.S., she co-produced the documentary Tupperware!, which received the Peabody Award in 2005. Hessman also co-produced the PBS biography of Julia Child, Julia! America’s Favorite Chef. In 2004, she founded Red Square Productions and was granted the position of Filmmaker in Residence at Boston’s PBS affiliate, WGBH, to develop My Perestroika. The project received the Garrett Scott Documentary Development Grant at the Full Frame Festival for a work-in-progress. In 2008 Hessman was a MacDowell Colony Fellow.
Her feature-length documentary directing debut, My Perestroika, premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival as part of the U.S. Documentary Competition and was screened in New York as part of the prestigious film series, New Directors/New Films, curated by MoMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Awards include the Center for Documentary Studies Filmmaker Award at the Full Frame Festival in April 2010, Special Jury Award at Silverdocs in June 2010, and Special Jury Award at Pravo Ljudski in Sarajevo. My Perestroika was released theatrically in the U.S. in 2011 and played in over 45 cities. It has been rated one of the top films of the year by leading critics.
The film screening and Hessman’s visit are sponsored by the history department, film and media studies program, Russian and European studies program, and Hillel at Lafayette.
Photo: Young Soviet Pioneers on Red Square during a May Day demonstration, Moscow, 1977 – from the documentary film My Perestroika by Robin Hessman. Courtesy of Red Square Productions