|SYNOPSIS | GALLERY|
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.