I was asked to introduce this movie THE ITALIAN at Common Ground, the 3rd Middletown International Film Festival on November 10th at the Russell Library in Connecticut. After the movie, I explained that I was also placed in an orphanage then foster care before I was adopted. I told them this movie is based on a true story.
This feature movie is everything I hoped it would be - truthful, complex and forthright.
The setting, a Russian orphanage, is exactly as I imagined, with children parenting each other, the older ones creating a system of providing for the younger ones (by any means necessary, including prostitution) and a corrupt bureaucracy that sells the younger children (let's not call them orphans because they do have parents) to rich buyers who they solicit to adopt.
What unfolds is Vanya (age 6) is slated to be sold to a rich Italian couple and is paraded to them exclusively.
Soon after he has an encounter with a friend's mother; the women is looking for her son from the same orphanage who was adopted to Italy.
You can see clearly how this mother's visit infects all the children with hope and possiblities, especially Vanya.
Vanya goes looking for information to find his mother. First he has to learn to read and then find his file locked in a safe. And after a chase and many tense moments, Vanya actually finds her, his mother.
The light on his face - and the shine that returns to his eyes - is why I highly recommend this film.
For anyone interested in the topic of international adoption, this movie will shape attitudes to close such orphanges worldwide, end all international adoptions, treat all children with more respect, address poverty, allow women to keep their babies and children (even unmarried) and educate potential adopters who need to recognize these children were made into orphans by goverments and religions.
The moral of this story: unite children with their families.
MY RATING: 5 STARS
Vanya Solntsev (played by child actor Kolya Spiridonov), an abandoned young boy living in a rundown orphanage in a small Russian village, rebels when he learns that he is about to be adopted by a rich Italian couple. After getting help to read his personal file, Vanya sets off to find his birth mother. Directed by Andrei Kravchuk.
Categories: Drama, Family. Year: 2005.
Russia, Lenfilm, 2005.
Writer Andrei Romanov and director Andrei Kravchuk constructed this ingenious, tragicomic tale of a desolate, decaying orphanage in the Russian countryside that sells abandoned kids to prosperous Western Europeans. The adults running the operation live in a haze of greed and alcoholic self--pity; the fatalistic elder orphans are thugs and hookers who accept crime and brutality as their only option in life. In this Dickensian world, nine--year--old Vanya is adopted by an Italian family. With a loving family and freedom in a new country on the horizon he is the envy of his fellow orphans. Yet rather than accept this new life, Vanya flees in search of his birth--mother and the truth of his past. A dual--award winner at the Berlin Film Festival and the 2005 Russian submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, The Italian is an elegant and poignant allegory for the moral crisis of Russia's new post--communist generation.
Cast: Nikolay Spiridonov, Marya Kuznetsova, Nikolay Reutov, Yury Itskov, Denis Moiseenko, Andrey Elizarov, Aleksandr Sirotkin, Vladimir Shipov, Polina Vorobjeva, Olga Shuvalova, Dmitry Zemlyanko, Darya Lesnikova, Rudolf Kuld.
Director Andrey Kravchuk.
The Italian - Итальянец
It's a pretty tall order to ask a six-year-old to suddenly take on responsibility for his own life. The questions facing Vanya are really tough: does he want to live 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. Serene life under the Mediterranean sun is awaiting him. But the boy longs to find his own mother, so he decides to set off in search of her. But before he can begin, Vanya must learn to read the file that holds the information he needs to find her. He embarks on his quest--and encounters a mysterious and dangerous world. 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. (YOUTUBE)