After Mikhail Gorbachev became the new leader in the mid-1980s, much changed in the Soviet Union: there was more openness (glasnost), the country was economically reformed (perestroika). But of course there were hardliners within the Communist Party who did not want to know about change. Under the significant name of the State Committee of Emergency, popularly known as the Gang of Eight, they attempted a coup on 19 August 1991. The coup was nipped in the bud within two days, but its effects were enormous and accelerated the eventual disintegration of the Soviet Union.
Director Sergei Loznitsa, who previously made Maidan, a documentary about the 2014 revolution in Ukraine, looks back on those two extremely confusing days using a lot of found footage. Footage from Leningrad (present-day Saint Petersburg) shows, among others, a young Vladimir Putin, who was then deputy mayor of the city.