In post-Soviet Russia, troubled underage boys caught at various offenses (from stealing to multiple murder) are committed for a few years to closed state reform schools. There, they live in... See full summary »
In post-Soviet Russia, troubled underage boys caught at various offenses (from stealing to multiple murder) are committed for a few years to closed state reform schools. There, they live in a military type of regime, starting the day with open air exercises, making beds to absurdly meticulous rules etcetera. Ironically, many come from such poor and/or abusive, often broken families that a structured life with three square meals, a warm dorm and regular classes feels like a better deal, some actually dread returning home. Written by
I am compelled to write something about this documentary because it deserves comment. I saw this film at the Prizren documentary film festival in 2009, and was struck not only by the content and subject matter, but also by the naturalistic and respectful way in which the whole documentary was shot.
The subject matter is certainly difficult to digest, the stories that these children recount difficult to believe, and the brutality of some of their lives' shocking. Yet the children are presented with neutral respect, and one feels that each and every one of the protagonists who make up this documentary is a real human, with unique characteristics. Despite one or two moments where one gets the feeling the authorities have staged an event or two for the benefit of the foreign film-makers, the documentary has the very rare quality of capturing the atmosphere and pulse of everyday life of its subjects.
I give this documentary a 10 on the basis of the impact I felt watching it. It is quite simply one of the most interesting, disturbing, and naturalistic documentaries I have ever seen, making me think a lot about society, punishment, inequality, and human nature.
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