Give Me Liberty (2019), brings to life the story of a Russian American, Vic, whose job is to drive a van for the handicapped in Milwaukee. Due to the recent death of his grandfather’s good friend, he was left with no choice but to lend a helping hand to transport him and a dozen of his elderly Russian friends to the funeral. Things take a turn as protest roadblocks slow down their trip and stop at an African American neighborhood to pick up a young black woman with ALS who happens to be an advocate for people with disabilities.
This heartwarming, witty, and introspective dark comedy takes a spin on a road movie – taking you on a wild ride that depicts life in all its glory. It gives a deeper look into the banal lives of people and how they cope through various challenges that come with aging, disabilities, conflicting cultural beliefs and figuring out one’s path.
The interactions between characters are wonderfully raw and authentic almost as if you’re reliving a raucous family trip…
The ensemble of opinionated, unfiltered, Russian-folk singing elderly immigrants set in their ways clashed with a Russian boxer who claims to be the nephew of the deceased, and the liberated American youth going through the motions is a recipe for a thought-provoking yet humorous exchange you certainly don’t want to be a part of but can’t quit. The interactions between characters are wonderfully raw and authentic almost as if you’re reliving a raucous family trip of your own that is equally outrageous and enjoyable.
As a young man with big dreams, Vic knows that there’s more to life than just being a driver. In between the chaos of family banters, elderly complaints, and misadventures that Vic has to endure on a daily basis comes an old bed-ridden man who becomes his voice of reason. Their thoughtful conversations serve as a breath of fresh air and guide to Vic as the elderly man, despite his disability, imparts his positivity and words of wisdom about love, life, and finding his purpose – something that we could all universally relate to.
When Life Becomes Art
Kirill Mikhanovsky is a Russian born writer and director who immigrated to Milwaukee after the fall of the Soviet Union. Much to his dismay, the path to living the so-called American dream entailed doing odd jobs, one of which was driving a medical transport for people with disabilities. Luckily, this occupation turned out to be the inspiration that made this award-winning film possible.
The heart of the narrative is all about finding and understanding one’s purpose in life. What we think is a mundane and mediocre job is actually noble and admirable, especially when working in healthcare and hospitality. Every little thing we do and sacrifice serves a greater purpose in someone else’s life and the grand scheme of things – the purest act of love and kindness.
Give Me Liberty (2019) also conveys a powerful message of the importance of diversity, inclusion, and equality primarily in today’s entertainment, social, and political landscape – that no matter where we’re from, who we are, and our physical limitations, these are the core elements that make our society, America, and the world great and a place we rightfully and proudly call home.