President Vladimir Putin rose to his current position of power at the dawning of the new century. An entire generation of millennials has grown up under his regime. The reality he's created is the only reference point they've personally experienced. The documentary Russia's Millennium Children examines this generation's views on their controversial leader.
"We don't have a democracy," says one 20-year old. While the younger generations have only known life under Putin's authoritarian rule, many have exposed themselves to other world influences through the internet.
One teenaged subject bemoans the insecurities and fears she feels she's inherited from previous generations. As the victim of constant school bullying, she's suffocating in her homeland, and feels constrained by a society that works to suppress personal or outside-the-box expression. We witness her marching amongst Russian citizens of all ages in opposition of Putin's leadership tactics.
Many of the film's interview subjects relish the opportunity to practice freedom of thought, and attempt to remain clear of the prejudices that they believe characterize their parents' generation. Some feel the pull of activism while others seek a more traditional form of careerism. One student has been involved in protests which have turned violent, another frets over the period of mandatory military service that awaits him after college.
Others view Putin as a courageous force who has done much to enhance Russia's standing and maintain world order. While their classmates might express dissatisfaction with Putin's means of enforcement, these students are driven by a palpable sense of pride and nationalism.
We learn about the millennials' schooling life, their social interactions, the paths that seem predestined for them and their ambitions for a brighter future.
The filmmakers intersperse Putin's own public addresses between the testimonies of the teens and young adults. For many, these orations are filled with empty and false promises, and create an alluring façade designed to deceive the masses.
Russia's Millennium Children is a thoughtful and probing look into lives and perceptions that continue to evolve within their unique environment. Somewhere within the film, we just might be witnessing the future of the country itself.