My Little Women

30 may 2023

The final project of the elective course on Film Production – the documentary film “My Little Women”.

Approximately 40% of the SAS curriculum consists of electives that students choose independently. Electives provide a sphere of freedom for SAS professors and visiting professors to offer courses related to their own professional interests. Some electives are taught by multiple professors who approach the same topic from different disciplinary perspectives. Most elective courses have an academic focus, but some are practice-oriented.

The Film Production elective course provides an overview of all major film professions and allows students to gain practical video production skills. We would like to share with you the story behind the creation of the final project of this course by a group of SAS students.

In the documentary film “My Little Women” aspiring theater director Nastya and her mentor Elena Ilinichna create a New Year's musical in the small town of Talitsa. Behind the beautiful portrayal of the rehearsal process and the collective's performance on stage lies the years of hard work by Elena Ilinichna, a complex and strong individual who has created a place where children and young people can develop their creative potential. Nastya, who grew up in this collective, has decided to dedicate her life to the arts and faces a difficult decision – whether to stay in the small town where she found her calling or leave for a big city to pursue her ambitions.

Alisa Sergeeva, SAS student, film director, says, “Nastya's story is very personal, yet familiar to everyone. It's a story of coming of age, self-discovery, and finding one's place in the world. Drawing inspiration, mostly from Greta Gerwig's work, I wanted to capture the moment when you have to cross the threshold of your home – but what direction to take? For me, this film is not just an attempt to tell someone else's story that resonates with my inner self, but also, in a more mundane sense, an attempt to understand myself and my relationship with the place where I grew up and was born.

For some reason, in my perception, the rhetoric of returning to a provincial town for professional self-realization has always carried the bitterness of shattered hopes. But Nastya showed that returning home can be the very path, if not to global success, then at least to a pursuit that brings happiness. The sense of home and belonging, in the context of the film, is defined not by the place but by the people and human connections.”

Creating a documentary film about art and creativity in a small town is an interesting task that involves not only the technical aspects of the process but also teamwork, various aspects of film conceptualization, and project management.

Alisa Sergeeva adds, “Without exaggeration, our project was quite challenging because we filmed in two cities. No one could have anticipated how physically exhausting it would be – carrying all the equipment on trains and taxis, spending sleepless nights in the editing room, sending some team members to study in Tyumen and then meeting and involving them in the filming process as soon as they arrived in Talitsa. The work didn't come together smoothly; we only had two weeks and no prior experience. Cameras refused to obey, focusing was a challenge, sound recording had issues, stabilizers had a mind of their own, and files from the flash card wouldn't open. We lost some lighting equipment, energy, and nerves. That's when our professor, Andrey Zubov, advised us to treat the filming process as a little adventure. After that, at least for me, it became a bit easier to breathe. Yes, our film is rough and uneven, born out of struggles, but it was born as a result of the collaborative efforts of the girls who, after two weeks, learned to rely on each other.”

The film was worked on by Alisa Sergeeva, Sofia Matveeva, Polina Shish, Ekaterina Shatunova, Anastasiia Riabkova, and Anastasiia Kostareva.