Making the political personal seems to be one of the running themes of this year's New Directors/New Films, and Robin Hessman's wondrously thought-provoking “My Perestroika”—literal translation "My Restructuring"—truly brings that concept home. Like a Russian version of Michael Apted's “42 Up,” Hessman's doc, which begins and ends with the national rite of the first day of school, observes the lives of five everyman classmates through the juxtaposition of their Soviet childhood home movies (i.e. unofficial history) and old communist documentary footage (the official history) and present-day interviews. As an American expat who spent a good part of the turbulent '90s living as an outsider in Leningrad and Moscow, tightrope-walking between cultures during the Cold War's thaw, Hessman possesses an East-West street cred that pays off in spades with her honestly reflective and unselfconscious subjects. A Glasnost-worthy openness shines through every face.
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