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Russia / Germany / UK / Finland, 1996 (MIFF 1997, Documentaries)

Director: Victor Kossakovsky

Leningrad, 19 July 1961. A summer's day and the newspapers are full of the usual articles. The world is (un)comfortably entangled in the Cold War. An average day in Leningrad: 101 babies are born in the Soviet city, 51 girls and 50 boys. One of them is filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky.

St Petersburg 1995: the city carries the name of its founder once again. This single fact alone speaks of the enormous political changes which have taken place. After 34 years Victor Kos­sakovsky tries to track down all the others who were born on that July day in 1961. Of the original 101, 31 have relocated, died or disappeared, 70 remain in St Petersburg and, astoundingly, Kossakovsky captures every one of them on film.

An ambitious and undoubtedly bizarre documentary, at times chilling and always awesome in its implications, Wednesday provides an illuminating glimpse into the lives of 35 year-old Rus­sians residing in the heart of the fragmenting Motherland. Kossakovsky has elicited a range of interviews from the outspoken to the painfully shy and the outright violent (Kossakovsky and crew are physically elected from one residence!). The images are generally haunting and present a Russia that is still toned grey. Tremendously entertaining, heartfelt and insightful.

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