No place like home
Benito Di Fonzo, Sydney Morning Herald.
April 10, 2007
Inspired by the orphans that Russian director Andrei Kravchuk saw scamming on the local streets in the '90s, The Italian is a dark and moving journey about a heroic little boy.
Along a dirty and remote snow-ridden road, a childless Italian couple arrive at a rundown Russian orphanage to adopt Vanya (Kolya Spiridonov). Vanya's peers, envious of his escape from the rule of the orphanage's drunken, melancholic headmaster (Yuri Itskov) and their own harsh hierarchy, christen him the Italian.
"When I was a student I shot a little documentary about [a] children's house and I thought about this problem," says Kravchuk, whose film has won several international awards. "[When scriptwriter Andrei Romanov] told me about the little article in newspaper, about [a] six-year-old boy who decides to find his mother, I realise it is a very good story for [a] movie."
Many of the cast members are actual orphans, injecting the film with a level of realism that Kravchuk set out to achieve. "I want that the people see it like a real story," he says.
Learning of the suicide of another adopted child's mother, Vanya escapes his comfortable life in Italy to search for his own mother. The Italian then becomes a neo-realist chase film as Vanya is pursued by orphan traders (Mariya Kuznetsova and Rudolf Kuld).
Learning important life skills along the way, such as how to glass a man with a broken beer bottle in a street fight, Vanya is hindered by as many people as he is helped.
Kravchuk sees Vanya's struggle as a parable of hope for his homeland.
"We have [a] heroic little boy who lives like a real man, yes? He lives like he feels in his heart and I think that when you have that kind of hero in our time in Russia, yes, we have a future."
Directed by Andrei Kravchuck.
Starring Kolya Spiridonov, Yuri Itskov, Mariya Kuznetsova.
Opens April 25.