POLINA / Polina, danser sa vie
Los Angeles Premiere • Drama • France, 2016
DCP • 2.35 • Dolby 5.1 • Color • 108 min
Directed by: Angelin Preljocaj, Valérie Müller-Preljocaj
Written by: Valérie Müller-Preljocaj
Based on a graphic novel by: Bastien Vivès
Cinematography: George Lechaptois
Film Editing: Fabrice Rouaud, Guillaume Saignol
Original Score: 79D
Produced by: Gaëlle Bayssière, Didier Creste (Everybody on Deck), TF1 Droits Audiovisuels, UGC Images, France 2 Cinéma
Cast: Anastasia Shevtsova (Polina), Niels Schneider (Adrien), Juliette Binoche (Liria Elsaj), Veronika Zhovnytska (Polina as a child), Jérémie Bélingard
International Sales: TF1 Studio
U.S. Distributor: Oscilloscope Laboratories
This love-letter to the world of ballet and dance follows a young dancer’s initiation into adulthood and her journey to find her place as an artist. Based on the popular Bastien Vivès graphic novel, this artful adaptation begins in Moscow, where the gifted Polina studies ballet under the dictatorial tutelage of Professor Bojinsky. His standards for technique border on the sadistic, but the pugnacious ballerina sticks it out and is rewarded with an opportunity to join the world famous Bolshoi. Polina’s years of grueling effort, not to mention the sacrifices of her parents, are put into jeopardy however, when she meets the charming French dancer Adrien and discovers contemporary dance. Transformed, Polina questions everything she has worked for. Given a chance to study under the famed modern-dance guru Liria Elsaj (Binoche), Polina must face the first major crossroads in her life. Graced with sublime dancing set-pieces performed by Jérémie Bélingard, star of the Paris National Opera, and mesmerizing newcomer Anastasia Shevtosa.
Husband and wife co-directors Angelin Preljocaj and Valérie Müller Preljocaj had been looking for a fiction project that incorporates dancing, so they jumped on the chance to adapt Polina. Valérie Müller Preljocaj, who wrote the adaption, directed a television documentary about Angelin that introduced her to the world of dance. Meanwhile, Angelin Preljocaj had directed the feature length Snow White in 2009, but that was more about Preljocaj’s choreography. This project would give them the chance to work together on a story that celebrates the daily life of a dancer. Angelin Preljocaj is intimately familiar with that life, having begun his career as a dancer before moving into modern choreography. His Ballet Preljocaj, based in Aix-en-Provence, is world renown. Valérie Müller-Preljocaj made her feature debut with the independent comedy Le monde de Fred (2014). The directing duo auditioned 700 dancers before they discovered Shevtsova at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg.