Director Alexey Fedorchenko presented his latest film, Anna’s War, at the 47th International Film Festival Rotterdam, where it had its world premiere in the Voices strand.
The film is set in Ukraine in 1941 and follows a little Jewish girl entering survival mode and finding an unlikely hiding place in a Nazi-occupied building. Fedorchenko explains in this interview that Anna’s War is based on a true story and as a filmmaker, everything about this story interested him. The film opens with the shot of a shallow mass grave and not much information is given because, as Fedorchenko tells us “I respect my spectator and I understand that everybody knows what happened during those times in those territories that were occupied by the Germans.” He also talks about the challenge of having a child lead character and finding the right child lead actress: in praise of the six-year-old Marta Kozlova, he says “I worked with her as if she were an adult actress … at the moment of shooting she was six-years-old but worked as a real adult actress, absolutely mature.”
Anna’s War: Ukraine, 1941: a Jewish girl regains consciousness under a layer of black earth. Close-ups of milky-white body parts reveal she is in a mass grave. The images are of great beauty despite all their horror. Director Alexey Fedorchenko (Silent Souls, 2010; Angels of Revolution, 2014) modestly, empathically tells the true story of six-year-old Anna, who views the war from her hiding place in a building taken over by the Nazis. The guard dog outside imprisons her. The threat of discovery is constant. Her ingenuity, the items left behind by the slowly alternating visitors and the treasures she discovers in the adjacent rooms help her survive, simultaneously creating some absurdist, theatrical moments. This ode to children’s resilience and ingenuity hinges on the phenomenal child actress Marta Kozlova. (Text of the synopsis taken from the official website of the International Film Festival Rotterdam.)