Hot Docs Review: Goodnight, Mister Stalin (Benjamin Kodboel, 2024)

Joseph Stalin is widely regarded as one of the most notorious and ruthless dictators in history. So I will admit to being slightly taken aback when, at the outset of Benjamin Kodboel’s Goodnight, Mister Stalin, he is described as being “one of the most feared and loved dictators.” Wait … loved? You’re telling me there are Stalin stans?

Yes, in fact, to this day, there is still a small yet devoted faction of (mostly quite elderly) Stalin lovers living in Gori, the Georgian town where Stalin was born. And though Stalin apparently turned his back on his hometown and never looked back, there’s seemingly still enough love for the man in Gori to also support a Stalin museum and a large statue memorializing the dictator, though the statue was taken down back in 2010.

The short film centres around Zhana, a young woman who is strongly anti-Stalin, and her unlikely friendship with Nasi, a grandmother figure of sorts and part of the small group of devotees who view Stalin as a heroic icon of the past. Goodnight, Mister Stalin offers up a fascinating look at an unexpected and improbable form of hero worship with Zhana serving as our tour guide through this strange world.

Posted on by Paul in Hot Docs