Prix du public au Festival de Saint-Pétersbourg, 2005
Prix du meilleur film au Festival de Zelbe (Allemagne), 2005
It’s a pretty tall order to ask a six-year-old to suddenly take on responsibility
for his own life. Every decision he makes will have an influence on his
future, and the questions facing Vanya are really tough: does he want to life
a comfortable life as an adopted child of a loving family in Italy? After all, for
an abandoned Russian child like Vanya it really doesn’t sound like a bad
option. Or would he rather take on the powers-that-be in Russian society?
The latter path would involve a battle against Russia’s feeble adoption laws
in a godforsaken part of the country where, for children without parents,
adoption offers the only chance for survival. Moreover, there’s plenty of
money to be had in selling orphans into adoption abroad. For Vanya to succeed,
he would have to get his own way in a cruel world where adults are
not about to let a perverse six-year-old prevent them from earning a quick
buck. He would also have to defend himself against the avarice of corrupt
militias. But, above all, his refusal to allow himself to be adopted by an
Italian family would be a decision against his mother’s wishes, who abandoned
him in a Russian maternity ward.
The world of children is a universe with its own laws; a realm in which
sometimes one’s heart speaks louder than one’s intellect. Vanya decides to
set off in search of his mother. But he must first learn how to read so that
he can understand the little information he has about her. Vanya embarks
on his quest – and encounters a mysterious and dangerous world.