Monday, December 08, 2008

[Asian Festival of 1st Films] Svetlana About Svetlana

I could sum this documentary up in a nutshell - it tells of filmmaker Lana Parshina's relentless pursuit of Svetlana Alliluyeva, the youngest child of Josef Stalin, whom she discovered to be living in the USA, and tracked her down with dogged determination to interview her.

For the short first act at least, Lana tells of her following a lead to finally lead her to her subject, only to have Svetlana reject her request. But given that it's her namesake after all who's knocking at her door, she finally relents, and for the most parts of the documentary comes the gem of having that exclusive interview granted, where she recounts her life during her childhood days in Russia, the loves of her life, and finally, how she defected in India and came to stay in the United States.

So for anyone interested to know more about the Stalin era, and to hear it being told from none other than a family member, then this documentary is a must-watch. There's no fancy techniques here employed to shift its focus away from the subject, so essentially it's pretty much talking heads, interspersed with old photographs from family albums and video clips from archives. Definitely for historical buffs, since Alliluyeva is as elusive as it can get in not granting requests such as this one.

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