Fishmonger Polina is sleeping badly because she’s worried about her brother. A tea given to her by a strange old woman transforms her sleep into a fairy tale. In a sort of underworld, she takes part in a competition that aims to determine whether or not she has what it takes to become a Tzarevna, or tsar’s daughter. The Tzarevna is an archetypical figure in Russia’s folklore and world of fairy tales. And the film is itself a fairy tale, in which Polina has to pass various tests in order to return at the end as a different person. Whether one reads the film as a modern self-discovery process, a journey into Russian cultural history or an attempt to plumb the meanings and reframings of cultural traditions in Russian history, DOCH RYBAKA draws upon an abundance of mythological figures and symbols. Slavic headdresses, costumes, Soviet interiors: no one element is left to chance. As well-thought-out and knowledgeable these references are, they never stop the narrative from breathing. The trip through this visually opulent and extremely original film universe is fast-moving and enriching, no matter whether you take a direct path or a detour. (Anna Hoffmann)
Uldus Bakhtiozina, born in 1986 in Leningrad, Soviet Union, now Saint Petersburg, Russia. She studied political science and graphic design and works as a photographer, costumer designer and filmmaker. DOCH RYBAKA is her first feature-length film.
Production Uldus Bakhtiozina. Production company Uldus Bakhtiozina (Sankt Petersburg, Russian Federation). Written and directed by Uldus Bakhtiozina. Cinematography Michael Znakov. Editing Uldus Bakhtiozina. Music Zaur Parsiati. Sound design Zaur Parsiati. Sound Andrey Kharitonov. Production design Uldus Bakhtiozina. Costumes Uldus Bakhtiozina. Make-up Tamara Yavorskaya. Casting Feodossy Chatriyen Bakhtiozin. Assistant director Maria Pavlova. Production manager Anastasiya Prasolova. Executive producer Maria Pavlova. With Alina Korol, Viktoria Lisovskaya, Valentina Yasen, Aleksandra Kysotskaya, Albina Berens, Seraphima Soloviova, Xenia Popova-Pendereckaya, Uldus Bakhtiozina, Adelia Severinova, Maria Pavlova.