In 1962, a peaceful Soviet workers’ strike turns into a massacre after the Red Army starts shooting protesters.
Lyudmila is a devout Communist Party official and idealistic veteran of World War II in Novocherkassk, a provincial town in the south of the USSR. She a staunch upholder of the Communist regime and ideals, and despises any form of dissent. Together with other local Party officials, she is taken by surprise when a strike breaks out in 1962 at the local electromotive factory, in which her own daughter is taking part. The situation quickly spirals out of control and the Red Army is sent in by the government to quell the unrest. As first shots are fired, the peaceful strike turns into a massacre. When Lyudmila’s daughter disappears, she starts a desperate, dangerous and relentless search for her, in spite of the blockade of the city, the mass arrests and the authorities’ attempts at a ruthless cover-up of state violence. Lyudmila’s once unquestioning faith in the Party line is shaken by her growing awareness of its human toll, tearing apart the world she thought she knew.
“I wanted to make a film about the generation of my parents, the one that fought in and survived World War II with a conviction that it was honourable to die ‘for the Homeland, for Stalin’ and an unconditional trust in the goals of communism. I wanted to reconstruct with the utmost accuracy the events that really happened, and an era in which history revealed the unbridgeable gap between communist ideals and the tragic reality of facts. This film is a tribute to the purity of that generation, its sacrifices, and the tragedy it experienced seeing its myths collapse and its ideals betrayed.” Director’s statement by Andrei Konchalovsky