Imagine being forcibly relocated to a deprived and cramped estate where you share your room with 15 others. Your local school is caged, jail-like behind steel bars. Donated sheet metal forms its walls; windowless passageways connect its classrooms. Lunik IX on the outskirts of Kosice, eastern Slovakia. The largest Roma ghetto in central Europe, Lunik IX was thrown together in 1981 as a solution to the municipality's problem with the homeless, tenants unable to pay rent and persons deemed “unable to adapt socially.” But behind the steel bars of its kindergarten, something stirs that carves through the air of the ghetto's notoriety. This school is an oasis for a chosen few within the virtually post-apocalyptic wasteland. Some of the city's most artistically gifted children come from this kindergarten and the fruits of their crafts line the walls of the interior. Through the children’s eyes, 'Lunik IX' is a journey into their vivid, shimmering refuge.
June 1986, a young Russian named Mikhail Puchkov creeps to the edge of the Neva river in St Petersburg. He lowers a homemade submarine into the water and clambers in. Rolling his knees up to his chest, he pulls the hatch closed and sets off downstream into the inky dark. Few hours later he finds himself entangled in a fishing net. He is hauled out, arrested by the KGB and taken for interrogation. Mikhail (or ‘Misha’ as he prefers to be known), is a rebel inventor, a self-taught engineer who crafted his submarine alone in his basement year by year. His tale is one of the oldest there is - that of the classic mythic hero, on a quest to test himself and achieve a seemingly impossible objective against all odds. Misha’s story straddles the old and the new world - from his Soviet childhood, through the collapse of the USSR, to the contours of Putin era. A convulsive historical backdrop to a turbulent personal life. Along with the story of his sub, we’ll learn about his dysfunctional family - frayed by alcoholism, death and divorce, his time as a runaway, in a children’s prison, and then in the army, where he suffered from dedovshina, the Russian form of hazing. The film will fuse personal and social drama in a compelling character study. The essence of the film is freedom in all it’s forms, showing how daily struggles and dreams may eclipse even the most acute political change.