A resonant slice of Europe, but surprisingly shot in Melbourne with local performers.
Director Stefan Bugryn and writer Llewellyn Michael Bates have crafted here a genuinely nail-biting European-style drama of a young teen trying out for a Ukrainian music school.
We start with the unconventionally dressed Sasha (Yiana Pandelis) attempting to get focus outside of her audition, keeping herself separate from the other auditionees, and beset by flashbacks to conflicts with her mother. The audio switches from regular sync sound to the fuzzy, effected sound which it becomes clear Sasha is experiencing.
Sasha is called in to her audition by an impatient man who looks closely at Sasha’s long blue hair and does not react kindly to it.
Sasha enters the audition and starts to muff it, her mother’s hurtful comments ringing in her ears. It’s touch and go as she takes up her violin, fumbles, starts, fumbles again. The pressure is on her and the strain is amplified by the camera moving around her from different perspectives. You can feel Sasha’s put-on-the-spot-ness and examination anxiety. The two judges staring and reminding her of her time limit – and the music bursts out.
The ending is ambiguous but intercut with the pouring out of the music, Sasha is on the phone – before? After? During? And her mother tells Sasha she loves her and to forgive her and the music keeps pouring out of her like release, like the letting go after the holding tight, and we hear how the music sounds from outside of Sasha and inside of Sasha like different worlds, yet connected by her dream to play, and be heard, her physicality, blue hair and all.
Sasha defies all of their expectations, in their faces.