Siberian Dream
The Gardner Documentary Group

 Irina Pantaeva tells the story of what it meant to grow up under Soviet rule, how her Buryat-Mongol language and culture were suppressed, and celebrates the cultural and religious revival now taking place.

 Ruslan, Irina's son, travels back to Siberia with his mother to learn more about the history and culture of the Buryats. At home in New York, he studies and composes music while attending high school.

 Solongo is Irina and Roland's newborn baby boy. In Buryat, Solongo means 'rainbow.' Though they live in New York, Irina is raising her children to be familiar with their culture and heritage.

 Roland Levin is a Latvian emigre who fell in love with Irina, was separated from her, and the obstacles they struggled with before reuniting in America. They recently celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary.

 Vladlen Pantaev, Irina's father, describes the restrictions imposed upon artists during Soviet times. A composer in the Buryat National Theater, he looks forward to his grandson continuing their traditions through his music.

 Tatyana, Irina's mother, explains the tough times her family experienced after perestroika. During the Soviet years, she held two jobs in order to earn enough money to feed and clothe her family.

 Robert Thurman is Professor of Religion at Columbia University and President of Tibet House US. In Siberian Dream, he describes the struggle of the Buryats during Soviet rule and the integration of Buddhism into their culture.

 Buddhist monk, Gunchen Lama, recalls Stalin's purges of Buddhist institutions and monks during the early days of the Soviet Union. Ivolginsk Datsan was the only monastery to survive, and it is here that he hopes to modernize his school.

 Dr. Lubov Abaeva describes the nomadic culture in the days before the Russians came into their territory. As professor of anthropology at Buryat State University, she has found new pride in Buryat culture among the younger generation.

 Nadja Stepanova, President of the National Society of Shamanism, performs a ritual in honor of Irina's ancestors. She explains the significance of the ceremony and the importance of this ceremony for Irina and her family.

 Elena Madueva, a farmer in the village of Korsakovo, relates her memories of the collective farms. She describes how, with the implementation of perestroika, they lost everything they had worked so hard for almost overnight.

 Alexandr Maduev, Elena's husband, is a Shaman. He explains how Stalin rid Buryatia of Shamans and prohibited their religion. "We used to be poor," he says, "and we are still poor."

 As a designer, Larissa Dagdanova chose Irina to model for her clothing collection when she was a schoolgirl. Under communism, fashion was seen as promoting capitalism. Today, she runs a thriving fasion house.

 The teacher in Siberian Dream reflects Irina's memories as a schoolgirl. Her conversation inside and outside the classroom represents just one of the many methods of Russification the Buryats were subjected to.

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