Since the fall of the Iron Curtain an estimated four million children have found themselves living on the streets in the former countries of the Soviet Union. In the streets of Moscow alone there are over 30,000 surviving in this manner at the present time. The makers of the documentary film concentrated on a community of homeless children living hand to mouth in the Moscow train station Leningradsky. Eight-year-old Sasha, eleven-year-old Kristina, thirteen-year-old Misha and ten-year-old Andrej all dream of living in a communal home. They spend winter nights trying to stay warm by huddling together on hot water pipes and most of their days are spent begging. Andrej has found himself here because of disagreements with his family. Kristina was driven into this way of life by the hatred of her stepmother and twelve-year-old Roma by the regular beatings he received from his constantly drunk father. "When it is worst, we try to make money for food by prostitution," admits ...Written by
Gosh, I'm from Canberra, Australia, too, and I wouldn't want the IMDb international community to think we are all hyper-rational insensitives here, who can't actually comment on a film in terms of the human experience it communicates and the emotions it elicits from us! The only Western viewer who could feel anything other than simply extreme sadness and, yes, guilt at this portrayal of these children's lives would be one unable to face a degree of responsibility for them. How so? By having been part of a political era in the West which only engaged communism and post-communism destructively, so as to create the social debacle that these children are the products of. It WOULD be more comfortable to be unaware of the details of such unfathomable misery on the doorstep of Western Europe, but documentaries like this (and an analogous recent one documenting the lives of homeless children in Bucharest, Romania) deny us such convenience. Its inevitable effect on you, if you still have a conscience, will remind you of the memorable scene in that immortal film, "the Third Man" (1949), with Martins (Joseph Cotten) being driven from the children's hospital by Major Calloway (Trevor Howard). He is speechless, and his face is frozen by the horror and pathos he has just witnessed in the dying children made ill by Harry Lime's tainted blackmarket penicillin. It's interesting how a byword for unadulterated evil and injustice is always the suffering of children. And this documentary is the MORE powerful for being brief and not getting lost in the commentary and analysis that get away from the essence of the agony portrayed. Go live the horror of these innocent lives as if yours was one of them, experience just how far in fact away from theirs is yours and that of everyone you know, and try then to say these 35 minutes didn't change your life a bit.
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