Crystal Swan

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Belarus | 2018 | 93 minutes | Darya Zhuk

In this eye-popping, vitriolic comedy set in Belarus circa 1996, a young female DJ befriends a rural family in a scheme to obtain her U.S. visa so she can move to Chicago and pursue her house-music career.

In her debut tragic comedy, director Darya Zhuk reveals a multilayered vision of time and place and paints a bright, kitschy, vibrant backdrop of familial dynamics and cultural traditions. It's the 1990s in Minsk, Belarus, and young female DJ Velya (Alina Nasibullina) feels misplaced and alienated; she loves house-music mixes from Chicago and dreams of going to America. To get a U.S. visa and escape her native country once and for all, Velya devises a risky scheme that derails her into a backwater village, where she insinuates herself into the bosom of a family of strangers. More than cliche, director Zhuk digs deep into the roots of her homeland with realistic characters that are tender as well as fatally flawed. Crystal Swan,  and Zhuk's short films (such as SXSW 2015 winner What Doesn't Kill You), are fun and unapologetic stories about strong, diverse, and sometimes shocking women. Crystal Swan, Belarus' first Oscar® submission in 22 years, is a true portrait of a young woman who is hungry for music and who searches for that elusive feeling of freedom we all desire.

Maryna Ajaja

Director Biography
Award-winning director Darya Zhuk left Minsk, Belarus, at the age of 16 to study in the U.S., enrolling at Harvard before obtaining an MFA in Directing at Columbia. Obsessed with filmmaking, Zhuk's short films have been selected by major festivals and Crystal Swan (2018), her debut feature, was Belarus's first Oscar® submission in over two decades. 

Sponsored by Propel Insurance, The Seattle Times, The Fools

  • Director: Darya Zhuk
  • Principal Cast: Alina Nasibullina, Ivan Mulin, Yuri Borisov, Svetlana Anikey, Anastasia Garvey
  • Country: Belarus, Russia, Germany, USA
  • Year: 2018
  • Running Time: 93 minutes
  • Producer: Birgit Goernbock, Olga Goister, Debbie Vandermeulen, Valery Dmitrotchenko
  • Screenplay: Helga Landauer
  • Cinematographers: Carolina Costa
  • Editors: Sergey Dmitrenko, Michal Leszczylowski
  • Music: Oliver Achatz
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Awards: Official Oscar Submission 2019 (Foreign Language Film), Bratislava International Film Festival 2018 (FIPRESCI Award), Cork Film Festival 2018 (Youth Jury Award)
  • Filmography: Debut Feature Film
  • Language: Russian, English
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • Format: DCP
  • International Sales: Loco Films