Nikita Mikhalkov began filming his six-year-old daughter Anna each year on her birthday at a time when home movies where illegal in the Soviet Union. His questions (What do you want most? What do you hate?) receive imaginative answers from the child (a pet crocodile; beet soup). With political indoctrination, Anna's greatest wish becomes peace, her greatest fear war. Perestroika's cataclysmic changes and Anna's more complex teenage responses are explored through newsreels and documentary scenes which record some of the outer edges to which a newly liberated people flock (e.g. a televised birthday party for a particularly flamboyant transvestite). Mikhalkov searches for the essential meaning of the lost Soviet empire, not in its pomp and slogans, nor in the rise and fall of its famous leaders, but in its effects upon the impressionable mind of Anna and, by implication, a generation who grew up under the weight of a dying order, and now look toward an uncertain but hopeful future.
Director: Nikita Mikhalkov
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