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Crystal Swan

Khrustal

In mid-1990s Belarus, a mistake on a DJ’s forged American visa application forces some desperate cover-up attempts in this tough and tender comedy.

Dir Darya Zhuk
Prod Birgit Goernbock, Olga Goister, Debbie Vandermeulen, Valery Dmitrotchenko
Scr Helga Landauer
With Alina Nasibullina, Ivan Mulin, Yury Borisov
Belarus-Russia-Germany-USA
2018
93min
Sales Loco Films
Subtitles

A wrong fake phone number could slam the recently opened Iron Curtain shut on Velya’s dreams of escape to the US. She is forced to decamp to that number’s residence in the backwater village of Crystal to cover her tracks, but finds herself intruding on an unsympathetic family’s wedding plans. Belarussian-American émigré Darya Zhuk’s feature debut highlights culture clashes within a rapidly changing country and portrays youthful desperation and defiance with a droll, absurdist humour and the occasional harrowing moment. Fortunately, spiky lead actor Alina Nasibullina’s star-in-the-making charisma, aided by her electric-blue wig, offers illumination in the darkness. It’s also touching to see an era that envisions America as a welcoming land of the free and potential home to the brave.

Leigh Singer

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