Screened as part of NZIFF 2007

The Italian 2005


Directed by Andrei Kravchuk

Crafty six-year-old Vanya escapes his squalid Russian orphanage (and adoption by an eager Italian family) to search the streets of St Petersburg for the mother who abandoned him.

Russia In Russian with English subtitles
99 minutes 35mm



Andrei Romanov


Alexander Burov


Tamara Lipartiya


Alexander Knieffel


Kolya Spiridonov
Maria Kuznetsova
Nikolai Reutov


Berlin 2005; Toronto 2006


Despite the title, the heart-wrenching feature debut of director Andrei Kravchuk has literally nothing to do with Italy, and everything to do with the urgent issue of illegal adoption in post-Glasnost Russia. Six-year-old Vanya – cute as a button and crafty as the Artful Dodger – is picked out of the mob of ragamuffins who crowd his squalid orphanage to start a new life in Italy. Everyone thinks Vanya is the luckiest boy alive, but Vanya worries that his real mother will try to find him after the adoption. Plucky and determined, he plots his escape, hotly pursued by the orphanage’s owner, who has sold Vanya for €5000. Fascinating scenes of orphanage life introduce a rogue’s gallery of underage hookers, pimps and junior Mafiosi, but, as Vanya discovers, life on the streets of St Petersburg is no picnic.

“A carefully and almost classically balanced combination of ingredients, blending dirty-faced realism (so much more damning because it judges and condemns no one) with mystical fable of quest and homecoming.” — Andrew O’Hehir,