Synopsis by Mark Deming
The grim toll the war in Chechnya has taken on that nation's children is the focus of this harrowing and powerful documentary. The film's first chapter was filmed at the Kronstadt Cadet Academy, where children between the ages of 9 and 14 (many orphans or from poor families) are taught the skills of soldiers, foreshadowing the lives they will probably lead in the Army. In the second segment, cameras capture the sad realities of life in the bombed-out Chechen capitol of Grozny as orphanages struggle to care for youngsters whose parents are either dead or no longer capable of raising them. The film concludes with profiles of a handful of children who have been traumatized by the war, ranging from a boy gang raped by Russian troops to another whose own mother was driven mad and tried to kill him.