Part of SFFILM Festival
San Francisco, CA 94103 United States
The USSR’s last leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, steps back into the limelight in this riveting documentary focused on a life that changed history. Now 87 and in precarious health, Gorbachev nevertheless possesses a mind as sharp as ever as he parries with Werner Herzog (SFFILM’s Directing Award, 2006) in a series of interviews. Gorbachev tells his story his way, immune to Herzog’s conversational gambits. Archival footage and interviews with Gorbachev contemporaries, including Poland’s Lech Walesa and former Secretary of State George Shultz, help fill in the portrait, but it is Gorbachev’s own words that form the core of this fascinating portrait.
“Not since Klaus Kinski has Herzog aimed his camera at such an uncontrollable subject, and that includes the erupting peaks of Into the Volcano and the radioactive crocodiles in Cave of Forgotten Dreams … And yet, it’s ultimately because of Gorbachev’s seeming unwillingness to fit the director’s usual mold that Meeting Gorbachev is able to become such a different and engaging bio-doc, as Herzog is left no other choice than to abandon the dark irony that tends to veil his work and embrace a more sincere approach. . . The film he’s made from their time together is a nostalgic, grateful, and surprisingly tender lament for a breed of politician that wanted to bring people together — that saw world peace as an extension of their patriotic duty, and not anathema to it.” –David Ehrlich, IndieWire
A prolific filmmaker, Werner Herzog’s features include Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970), Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972), Heart of Glass (1976), Stroszek (1977) Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), Fizcarraldo (1982), Emmy-nominated Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997), The White Diamond (Festival 2004), The Wild Blue Yonder (Festival 2006), Rescue Dawn (Festival 2007), Best Documentary Oscar nominee Encounters at the End of the World (2007), Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010), and Into the Inferno (2016). In 2006, he received The Festival’s directing award.
André Singer is a British documentary producer and director as well as an anthropologist. As a director, his films include Afghan Exodus (1980), A Man Without a Horse (1984), The Last Navigator (1989), and Night Will Fall (2016), winner of a Peabody Award and a News & Documentary Emmy Award. Singer has worked with Werner Herzog as producer or executive producer on 13 productions since 1992. He was the president of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain from 2014 – 2018.
Language Russian, German, English
Director Werner Herzog, André Singer
Producer Lucki Stipetic, Svetlana Palmer
Editor Michael Ellis
Cinematographer Richard Blanshard, Yuri Barak
Music Nicholas Singer