Children Sold as Objects

By Lois Siegel

Photo by Paul Jean

Lois Siegel

Plays fiddle and she teaches Video Production at
the University of Ottawa
Her documentary films include “Baseball Girls”
 (women who play softball and baseball)
 “Lip Gloss” (female impersonators)
 “Strangers in Town” (albinism)
 and “Stunt People”
 (The Fournier Family performing stunts for films).

Vanya (Kolya Spiridonov)

“The Italian” focuses on children sold as commodities. The acting and the visual landscape create a timeless, memorable film, and it’s a ‘must see’ if you like excellent cinematography (Aleksandr Burov).

“The Italian” is a Russian film that does not take place in Italy.  It’s about a little boy who lives in a dilapidated orphanage in a small Russian village. The countryside setting is remote, and we sense this feeling throughout the film. The people are removed from contact with others, the poverty is evident, and the isolation is haunting.

An anxious Italian couple visits the home for abandoned children. They long for a child of their own and have lots of love to give.  But that’s where the loving ends.  Those who run the decaying institution are in it for the money.  They only care about selling cute little kids to couples who can’t have their own children. They focus on foreigners who can pay.  Their greed permeates the screen.

The Italian would-be parents are charmed with one little boy, Vanya (Kolya Spiridonov). After Vanya meets his proposed new parents who have arranged to come back in a few weeks to take him to Italy, the other children at the orphanage begin to call him “The Italian” and tell him how lucky he is to have found parents who will give him a real home.

But soon after, an incident occurs at the orphanage that changes Vanya’s mind about being adopted, and he becomes obsessed with finding his real mother.

The casting of the film is excellent. The talented, young actor, who plays Vanya, reflects a determined spirit, far beyond his years. The shabby, old director of the institution (
Yuri Itskov
) is perfect for the role of a weak, alcoholic who suffers under the viperous glare of the “Madam” (Mariya Koznetsova), who arranges the adoptions. She’s an overweight, demanding, business lady whose venom is chilling.

*Berlin International Film Festival: Best Feature Film
*Academy Awards, Official Selection from Russia, Best Foreign Language Film 2005
*Toronto Film Festival: Official Selection

The Italian, Directed by Andrei Kravchuk, 99 minutes, 2005, Russia
Rated Parental Guidance: Mature Theme, Language May Offend

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