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I Wanted to be Happy in the USSR

2009, SD video, Russian dialogue with English subtitles

Directed, photographed and edited by

Dimitri Venkov

“I Wanted to be Happy in the USSR” is a story of the Guinean-born man George and his family. George came to the Soviet Union as a medical student in 1979, married a Ukrainian woman and settled. After the dissolution of the USSR, Russia saw a rise in the nationalist and anti-migrant sentiment followed by an increase in ethnically motivated violence. Since the early 2000s, George was harassed and attacked on several occasions. His daughters Anne and Marie suffered bullying and occasional beatings at school. The stifling atmosphere of anguish and fear took a grip of the entire family and made the outside world feel hostile and dangerous. After several failed attempts at immigrating, they decided to take their chances and travel on a tourist visa to Norway to seek asylum.

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