Instructions for Survival, one of the most striking documentaries to come out of this year’s Berlinale, elegantly navigates the story of a couple fighting for freedom against terrifying threats in their homeland.
The film opens with haunting footage of anti-LGBTQ mobs swarming a bus of queer folks in Georgia, violently opposing any kind of queer visibility in the country. Among this persecuted group of Georgians is Alexander, a young trans man struggling to validate his identity in a place that is absent of resources and acceptance. Alexander and his loving wife, Mari, decide to flee to Western Europe for a better life. After Mari becomes a surrogate mother to help pay for travel expenses, Alexander and Mari become attached to the unborn child, presenting yet another emotional challenge for the embattled couple.
Instructions for Survival is a harrowing film that shows the grim reality that many queer folks face in Eastern Europe, and the strength they gather to carry on and remain true to themselves in a hateful environment.