Sheffield Doc/Fest Review: Gorbachev. Heaven

Gorbachev holding court

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a name and a face which will be well known to anyone of a certain age. His role in the dismantling of the Iron Curtain is possibly the most important event in the history of post-war Europe. In the West and former Eastern Bloc states his lauded as a hero for masterminding Perestroika, Glasnost and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. However, in his motherland he is largely derided for what is seen as being responsible for the collapse of the USSR and decline of Russia’s power.

The recipient of countless awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize, after leaving office he established the Gorbachev Foundation and has been a vocal critic of Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin. Now at the age of ninety and living on his secluded estate outside of the capital, the former leader reflects on his life in a series of interviews with filmmaker Vitaly Mansky. The result is captured in his new documentary, Gorbachev. Heaven.

Gorbachev. Heaven explores the major moments in his political career and gives him the opportunity to reminisce about the past. His health is clearly ailing quite badly and the camera doesn’t shy away from this. Neither does Mansky in the choice of questioning, not that he always gets the answers he’s looking for. As despite his age Mikhail Sergeyevich is ever the politician. It’s a pleasure to spend time with an elderly statesman in Gorbachev. Heaven.

Gorbachev. Heaven screens at Sheffield Doc/Fest.

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