About the desire to break free – “Anna”, dir. Dekel Berenson

Although we don’t need love to survive physically in this world, it is a feeling that we can’t mentally function without. That feeling serves to us as a “fuel” needed to reach our goals. A life without love makes all our actions, problems and everyday life seem like suffering – a sort of solitary prison. Hence, a human, as an inherently free being, aims for a change of that state of things, even if unconsciously. So does the titular character (Svetlana Barandich) of Dekel Berenson’s film entitled “Anna”.

She is an ordinary woman, a Ukrainian, taking care of her teenage daughter – Alina, all by herself. Most of the day she spends at work, making a living as a meat-packer. Hard though the situation is, she doesn’t give up and endeavors to care for her adolescent daughter. However, she doesn’t have any time to care for herself. Every day feels the same for her. But one day she gets a chance to change her fate. During the night shift she hears an announcement in the radio about an offer to meet some male foreigners. This is the first time in the film, when we get an insight into the heroine’s private dilemmas, since we can observe that she certainly is attracted by the offer. Despite her age and obesity, Anna decides to try her luck and comes to the meeting. As the time goes by, it is noticeable that most of the Americans look only for a hook-up, which makes Anna furious, as she finds her teenage daughter among other women at the meeting.

Was that outrage rather a matter of envy or concern for the daughter? It is hard to tell for certain. The acting of the protagonist – facial expression and gestures, suggests that it was hard for her to cope with being avoided by men. Maybe she could see her own reflection in her daughter and that was the reason behind her reaction? While we can merely speculate about it, the only thing we can take for certain is her love for her daughter, which gave Anna a purpose in life, even if she thought that it wasn’t enough.

Aside from the plot, the beautiful Vovalvanov’s camera shots are definitely worth mentioning. They show at the same time the harshness and the beauty of the Ukrainian landscape, which in small towns still resembles the era of the centrally planned economy.

As far as the creator himself is concerned, he is a promising Jewish director from Great Britain. His short films: “Ashmina” and the one described by me – “Anna”, received critical acclaim and provided the author with a nomination for the best short film contest during the festival in Cannes. The topics that he brings out are truly relevant and they refer to the private sphere of emotions, which can be captured only for a brief moment.

Cezary Kowalski

Translation: Magdalena Hołowiecka

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