Darya Zhuk was born in Minsk, Belarus and moved to the US at 16 to study. She graduated with honours from Harvard and later Columbia University. She worked for HBO for six years. In her student days, she worked as a DJ: dance music was for her ‘the personification of freedom’. Emigration from ex-Soviet countries to the US and the freedom associated have become major themes of Zhuk’s work: the short film ‘the Real American’ (2015), and in ‘Crystal Swan’ – the director’s debut feature.