Ukrainian director Dekel Berenson’s film Anna premiered in the Short Film competition in Cannes last week. A tale of desire set in a bleakly real world, Anna sees a middle aged woman desperately trying to change her life in any way she can.
Svetlana Alekseevna Barandich is brilliant as the struggling heroine, a single mother working in a meat factory. When she hears an advert listing an opportunity to meet single men visiting from the US, Anna jumps on the chance, even if she isn’t quite what the organisers are looking for. As she meets to hear about the party she is to attend, her keenness is endearing, but more than a little sad.
Berenson languishes in long shots featuring little action, setting up a beautiful yet cripplingly lonely world for Anna. Not a second is wasted – each and every moment tells so much, even with such a small amount of dialogue.
In one of the longer sequences, a translator paraphrases the exchanges between Anna and a would be suitor, trying to tell each of them what she thinks they want to hear. The comedy is perfectly balanced with a sympathetic sadness. Berenson proves himself to be a very capable writer and director here, angling for as much emotional investment in his character as possible.
As Anna dances alone, we see the energy she is using to hold up a façade of attractive confidence, we share fully in her almost encapsulating desperation.
Although Berenson’s short missed out on the Short Film Palme d’or this week in Cannes, the fantastic news is that the piece has been picked up to be adapted into a feature. With any hope, Berenson will retain all of the beauty, melancholy and sweet humour, without stretching the material to fill a longer run time.
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