Running Time: 15’
Aspect Ratio: 1:2.39
Screening Formats: 2K 5.1 DCP, 35 mm print (French subs), ProRes.
Sound: 5.1 or Stereo.
Shot on Arri Alexa, 24p, original format 2.8K
Language: Ukrainian, English.
Subtitles: English, Italian, French, Spanish, German, Hebrew, Chinese, Russian, Korean, Arabic.
Living in war-torn Eastern Ukraine Anna is an aging single mother who is desperate for a change. Lured by a radio advertisement, she goes to party with a group of American men who are touring the country, searching for love.
Anna, a middle-aged single mother, lives in a small industrial town in war-torn Eastern Ukraine. She works in a meat processing plant, lives in a rundown apartment and dreams for a better life for herself and her 16-year-old daughter.
Desperate for a change, she is lured by a radio advertisement to attend a party organized for foreign men who are touring the country, searching for love. Despite not having been out for years she decides to take part in the event.
At the party, Anna is confronted with the realities of old age, with the American men's real intentions, and by her underaged daughter who is also attending the event. Both mother and daughter realize the absurdity and indignity of the situation and abandon their dream for a better life.
Anna was shot in January-February 2019 in Ukraine. The film is distributed by Salaud Morisset.
I first visited Ukraine in 2012, while traveling across Europe in a van. It was an important step for me personally as my grandmother was born in Khust, a small Ukrainian border town. She witnessed how Ukraine, like the rest of Eastern Europe became a part of the USSR, and then later gained its independence, which is now once again threatened. When I went, I was fascinated by the mixture of Eastern and Western traditions, by the people, and was heartbroken by Ukraine's poverty and the rampant corruption that plagues its institutions.
In the nightclubs of Odessa, on a hot summer evening, I witnessed events similar to the ones depicted in Anna. These clubs are notorious for being hot spots for the type of men and women who seek others while harboring secret agendas. The men ogle women as if they were the pieces of meat hanging in Anna's workplace. The women size up the men according to the perceived value of their shoes.
The men, hoping to take advantage of the women's despair and desire to move abroad, try to seduce them with promises of a possible relationship. The women, pretending to be unaware of the obvious scheme, make promises of their own and scam free drinks, expensive dinners, and gifts from the men. The savviest and most determined women will, in turn, seduce naive men with promises of love and everlasting marriage, only to quickly divorce them once they set foot in their new home country. So, each side attempts to take advantage of the other and more often than not fails at it but then returns the next evening for more of the same. For underneath the cynicism and objectification there is the driving force of hope, that on one of these evenings an interaction will lead to something deeper and more meaningful - a real connection based on genuine feelings, a relationship that will lead to a better life.
After observing what went on at the nightclubs of Odessa I discovered the existence of the “love tours” that are depicted in Anna and found the subject compelling enough to return to Ukraine six years after my original visit, and capture it on film. In Anna the backdrop is wintry and cold, but regardless of a country's regions everyone ultimately harbors dreams and aspirations. These international dating events, which have been organized since the fall of the Iron Curtain, continue to take place, with groups arriving in Ukraine many times a year. The mass parties in which men are usually outnumbered 1 to 10, now take place almost exclusively in East Ukraine, the industrial and more impoverished part of the country.
Ironically, Svetlana Barandich who portrays Anna, participated in such an event more than 20 years ago. And, an actress that we auditioned for the role of the translator told us that she was recently hired as a translator for one of these events. She said that, similarly to the corresponding scene in Anna, she would make up conversations and that “All men and women were always Leo,” for it was the only astrological sign for which she knew the English word.
This is an important story of hope and despair, one which I have attempted to capture as authentically as I could.
Dekel Berenson - Director
Dekel Berenson is originally from Israel and completed a mandatory three-year service in the Israeli Defense Forces. In 2001 he went abroad to pursue his education, eventually acquiring a Masters in International Relations from the Central European University in Budapest in 2006, receiving the Best Thesis Award and graduating first in his class. Moving forward, the next ten years of his work in writing, activism, and graphic design took him all over the world, where he explored more than sixty countries. Over the past three years, he has combined his two passions, making artistic films of high quality that bring to light real-world social and humanitarian issues. His 2nd film Ashmina won several prizes, including the Best Short Film award at the 59th Krakow Film Festival, allowing it to complete for a short Oscar. His 3rd film, Anna, premiered in competition at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival. He is currently working on his first feature.
Svetlana Alekseevna Barandich - Anna
Svetlana is a professional theater and film actress who began acting at 17. In 1985 she graduated from the theater and drama studio at the Kiev National Academic Drama Theater. From there she worked in a number of theaters in the Ukraine and Kiev until in 1995 she received a degree in theater studies at the Institute of Theater Arts. Since the 2000's she has actively been filmed in television and in commercials.
Vova Ivanov - Director of Photography
Based in Berlin. Graduated in 2007 from the Kiev State University of theatrical art, television and filmmaking, specializing in Cinematographer. Became member of the Ukrainian National Union of cinematographers since 2010. In 2018 graduated from the Konrad Wolf Film University Babelsberg, with a Master of Fine Arts in Cinematography. As a Director of Photography since 2006 completed 19 feature and TV feature films, over 70 commercials, music videos, and short films.
Producer. Olga Beskhmelnytsina is the CEO of UART, a project manager, and a producer. She holds two Master degrees (International Economics and Documentary Filmmaking). Having started her career as a Producer’s Assistant at The Ukrainian Motion Picture Association in 2015, she quickly became a Producer at ESSE Production House. She has since produced numerous international films.
Producer. Merlin Merton started off as a freelance producer on music videos, picking up several UKMVA nominations. In 2013 he founded Blue Shadows Films, a production company renowned for its bold features such as 10,000 Saints (2015), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and Butterfly Kisses (2017), winner of the Crystal Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.
Executive Producer. Studied film at the Jerusalem film school of Sam Spiegel. Anthem, his graduation film, won the Cinéfondation selection in Cannes 2008. Another short, And On He Walks participated in the Locarno film festival in 2011. His first feature Afterthought took part in the Cannes Official Selection in 2015 and won several local awards. Elad lives in Tel Aviv where he teachers, lectures and gives story tutoring to film students and professionals.
Cast & Crew
Anna - Svetlana Barandich
Alina - Anastasia Vyazovskaya
Eric - Eric R. Gilliatt
Translator - Alina Chornogub
Party Organiser - Liana Khobelia
Ian - Istan Rozumny
Drunk Man - Pavel Levitsky
Writer & Director - Dekel Berenson
Director of Photography - Vova Ivanov
Producers - Merlin Merton, Vitaliy Shermetiev,
Executive Producers - Natalia Libet,
Elad Keidan, Dima Konoplov
Line Producer - Olga Maksiuk
First Assistant Director - Janina Kucher, Andrej Krutij
Second Assistant Director - Elena Brazhnik
Third Assistant Director - Lera Ruban
Casting Director - Alla Samoylenko
Assistant Casting Director - Pasha Nikitiuk, Anastasija Gusar, Tasia, Pleshivtseva
First Assistant Camera - Sasha Paholok
Gaffer - Dima Amelichev
Sparks - Dmitrij Levchenko,
Art Director - Kara Baleyan
Assistant Art Director - Sergej Shishkin
Costum Designer - Sasha Klimovich
Costume Assistant - Igor Klimovich
Costume - Karolina Shermeta
Make-up - Alla Leonova, Svetlana Polikashkina
Digital Image Technician - Yaroslav Nemoj
Steadicam Operator - Vova Olejnik
Dolly Grip - Alexandr Posvyaschnnij
Location Managers - Anna Salieva, Julija Degnera
Assistants - Evgenij Brazhnik, Denis Zinchenko,
Vlad Zaharov, Roman Koldij
Editor - Yegor Troyanovsky
Post-production Supervisor - Charlotte Stade
Colorist -Dmitry Vasylenko
Sound Designer - Andrii Nidzelskyi
Sound Mixing - Andrii Rohachov
Music Supervisor - Yaroslav Lodygin
Script Advisor - Marta Parlatore
Yuri Morenko, Joe Krapek, Peter Pain, Joseph Harrison, Dmitriy Durnev, James Martin, Valery Kovalenko, Pavel Kovalsky, Pavel kucherov, Daria Batoska, Vsevolod Tsymbal, Alex shutiy, Anatoly Oleinik, Igor Bukhaltsev, Anatoly Shyshko, Viktoria Boiko, Kristina Gredneva, Vladimir Bebeshko.
The director wishes to thank:
Charlotte Stade, Alexey Zgonik, Denis Ivanov, Igor Savychenko, Yulia Konoplyova, Olena Savchenko, Igor Ryzhkov, Toby Fell Holden, Judith Mandy, Dominic Davey, Andrew Krakower, Ben Nisman, Angeli Macfarlane, Shalom Eizenbach, Patrick Campbell, Patrick Ewald, Gitit Wainer-Arie, Adar Shafran, Vered Heller, Reut Shapir Ben Naftaly, The Haifa Film Festival, Adi Cohen, Jordi Rediu, Anna Ilnitskaya, Maryana Golovko.
With special thanks to:
Film Industry Association of Ukraine, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Film London, Ukrainian Film State Agency and International Renaissance Foundation.