The idea for THE ITALIAN started in 2000. There were a lot of children on the streets of Russia trying to earn their living selling newspapers, washing cars and doing all sorts of menial jobs. I started thinking about making a film about the subject and shared this idea with screenwriter Andrei Romanov. He told me that he had read an article about an orphan boy from a children’s home who decided to find his own mother. In order to do so, he taught himself to read and write and afterwards ran away from the children’s home. This became the basis for our final screenplay.

Working with children was difficult but very interesting. We had to find a special way to communicate with them, as most of them were real orphanage wards. It was important to explain to the children that our work was really serious and to treat them with the respect of adult actors. They responded well to this, giving us their best, performance- wise.

THE ITALIAN is a film about love, self-esteem and dignity. I think that if a person acts in accordance with his heart and human principles he will definitely be a winner in any situation.

This is also a film about a country in turmoil. If we have little “heroes” like the lead character Vanya, who are capable of performing such outstanding deeds, we can talk of and hope for a better future in Russia. I strongly hope the universal themes in THE ITALIAN will be understood not only by Russian people but also by foreign audiences.

— Andrei Kravchuk