Love and youthful idealism are both put to the test as the Soviet Union begins to crumble in this drama from director Karen Shakhnazarov. In the early '70s, Sergei (Alexander Lyapin) is a Russian college student who proudly describes himself as a dissident, telling anyone who cares to listen that he wants to help bring democracy to the Soviet Union. Sergei's confident, outspoken manner has made him quite popular with the women on campus, much to the chagrin of his close friend Stepan (Yegor Baranovsky), who shares his political views but not his social skills. Sergei is dating Lyuda (Lidiya Milyuzina), one of the most beautiful girls at the university, but while he loves her he doesn't always appreciate how special she is. Stepan, however, is immediately smitten with Lyuda, and loves her from afar while Sergei's headstrong nature and thirst for alcohol threaten to jeopardize his opportunities. Sergei, Lyuda, and Stepan are entering adulthood at a time when the Soviet Union is in a state of flux -- young people are embracing the trappings of the West, their grandparents are trying to hold on to scraps of the culture that was lost in the revolution, and their country is headed for a future far different than what either side can imagine. Ischeznuvshaya Imperiya (aka The Vanished Empire) received its North American premiere at the 2008 Montreal World Film Festival.