"IT'S NOT THAT I WANTED to be like everyone else," says a Russian woman in her 30s at the opening of My Perestroika. "I simply was like everyone else." This is Lyuba, one of the five subjects in Robin Hessman's expertly rendered documentary of the experiences felt by the last generation of children to have been born behind the Iron Curtain.
To most Americans, life in Russia seemed a vague existence of scarcity and suppression, and even though these now-adults—two history teachers, a men's clothing retailer, a busker, and a billiards table manager—wouldn't have it back, their childhood memories are overwhelmingly happy. Just as their American counterparts fought and partied for the causes of their time, here we meet the people that helped thwart a military coup in Moscow with a festive sit-in, and understand the frustrations of Ruslan, founder of one of Russia's earliest successful punk bands. The colorful My Perestroika demonstrates the effectiveness of understanding politics through their impact on the individual—and teases open a window of mutual understanding.