Juris Podnieks: Is It Easy To Be Young? (Vai vegli but jaunam?)

Is It Easy to Be Young? (Vai vegli but jaunam?), Juris Podnieks, 79’,  USSR / FRG, ZDF 23.8.1988, OV with English subtitles

1986: A reactor has just exploded in Chernobyl. In Latvia, Juris Podnieks is making a documentary film about young people rioting in the suburban train after a concert. Punk has reached the USSR: “Look, what filth we are, but we are your children, your brood. You have made us what we are with your hypocrisy, your lies, your sole truths.” In amazement, the television audiences in the Federal Republic - and those who can receive “West German television” in the GDR - watch young soldiers criticising the war in Afghanistan, a mother talking about her fear of nuclear contamination. “I have been accused of showing such ‘terrible’ young people in this film,” says the director. “I must confess, however, that I love every one of these young people.”

Juris Podnieks (1950–1992) was a well-known Latvian film director and producer. Among others, his films were shown at the Berlinale. In collaboration with Das kleine Fernsehspiel, he made Is It Easy to Be Young? (1988), considered one of the most important presages of the emerging perestroika.