In his feature directorial debut, director
Andrei Kravchuk addresses with intelligence and poignancy
the urgent issue of illegal adoption in Russia, which has
become a well documented international crisis. THE ITALIAN
is based on the true story of a small Russian boy abandoned
in an orphanage who goes in search of his birth mother. A
childless, affluent couple from Italy comes to a provincial
Russian children’s home to find a child for adoption. The
orphanage is a harsh place, run by two rival internal
factions. Alongside the official, adult administration, run
by a corrupt headmaster (played by Yuri Itskov) with the
help of greedy adoption broker Madam (Maria Kuznetsova),
there is a shadow children’s gang operating out of the
institution’s boiler room.
When the Italian couple singles
out six-year-old ragamuffin Vanya Solntsev (Kolya
Spiridonov) as their prospective choice, the other orphans
give Vanya a new nickname: The Italian. They envy Vanya,
imagining that he is destined for a life of ease in sunny
Italy. But seeing that the older children must resort to
stealing or prostitution in order to survive, plucky little
Vanya has other plans. He decides to track down his birth
mother, teaching himself to read in order to learn her
address from his personal file locked in the home’s office.
After stealing his records, Vanya sneaks out of the
orphanage and boards a commuter train headed for the city,
with the orphanage staff and police in close pursuit.
Fearing that Vanya will make them lose a very lucrative
adoption deal, the orphanage headmaster joins forces with
Madam to find the runaway child by any means necessary.
2006 Sony Classics. . All rights reserved.
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