This week at Klassiki we are screening Darya Zhuk’s stunning debut feature film Crystal Swan (2018). Zhuk’s film, following the story of a young DJ in her attempt to immigrate to the USA, was Belarus’ first entry into the Academy Awards Best Foreign Language category in 22 years, making it a historical milestone in Belarusian cinema. To celebrate other successful female filmmakers, we have drawn up a list of our five favourites.
Crystal Swan (2018), Darya Zhuk.
Valeriya Gai Germanika
Starting her directorial journey at the young age of nineteen, Moscow-born Valeriya Gai Germanika has built herself a diverse filmography, ranging from documentaries, feature films, television series and surprisingly, even porn. No stranger to dark and highly controversial themes, including promiscuity, alcohol and drug abuse, Germanika is best known for her raw depictions of teenage life in coming-of-age films such as Everybody Dies But Me (2008), for which she took home numerous awards, including the Young Cinematographer Award at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.
A shining representative of post-Soviet Central Asian cinema, Saodat Ismailova’s films are deeply rooted in the culture of her native Uzbekistan, which she both thoroughly explores and uses as a source of inspiration. Her touching debut feature film 40 Days of Silence (2014), which explores the lives and experiences of four generations of Uzbek women living in a small village, earned her a nomination for Best Debut Film at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival.
Originally from Moscow, Renata Litvinova’s career in film first began with ten years of screenwriting. After having worked closely with legendary director Kira Muratova, she made her directorial debut with the documentary film There is No Death For Me (2000). Litvinova boasts a plethora of various awards, including Honoured Artist of the Russian Federation and numerous Best Actress wins, also having worked as an actress in the mid-2000s. In 2017, Litvinova made her debut in theatre with her original production, The North Wind.
40 Days of Silence (2014), Saodat Ismailova.
Armenian-Russian film and television director/producer Anna Melikian’s career began in television at a very young age. After graduating from the All-Russian State University of Cinematography, she was awarded the Saint Anna University Prize for her short film, Poste Restante (2000). Melikian would then go on to make Rusalka (2007), her most critically acclaimed film to date, which won awards at the Sundance and Berlin International Film Festivals, amongst others. Since then, she has worked on various films and television series, often taking on the role of both director and producer.
Born in Yerevan in 1980, Mariya Saakyan was an Armenian director, best known for her short film Farewell (2003) and her first feature film Mayak (2006), a film about war in Armenia from a uniquely female perspective. Both films were shown at countless film festivals around the world, winning her several awards in the process. Saakyan unfortunately passed away from cancer at the age of 37 in 2018, on the cusp of what was to be a bright and promising directorial career.