A new-born baby: the greatest manifestation of hope, our belief in a future, the recognition of our mortality. That Kossakovsky should thus begin his documentary of contemporary Russian life is no coincidence. For many Russians, wealth is measured not in kopecks but in the value of a child born against all odds. Setting out to trace the other 100 people born, like him, in St Petersburg on 19 July 1961, Kossakovsky found 70 still living in the city; without introduction or voice-over, he presents them apparently at random, until the craft of his richly woven tapestry becomes evident. The unflinching camera is at times disarming. Nor is he averse to ambushing subjects, some of whom are less than impressed by his nerve. Others are pleased to find their lives deemed worthy of recording. One couple features repeatedly. She, heavily pregnant, is an alcoholic, he a drug addict. Their thoughts on life pepper the film until, eventually, we watch the birth of their daughter. Then film's intent becomes clear: the couple's decision to become parents is symbolic of whatever drives Russians to face each new day. 'Why isn't she crying? Is something wrong?' asks the mother. Kossakovsky makes us wait for the answer. Minutes drag until we return to the hospital - he's telling us we must have faith.
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