Crystal Swan, the debut feature from Belarusian director Darya Zhuk AB '02, will have its joint North American premiere at Slamdance and Santa Barbara International Film Festivals. The film is competing as a part of Slamdance Narrative feature competition and will screen on January 26th and January 30th. Set in 1996, the film is an evocative exploration of young Belarus and its fascination with Western ideals of freedom—told through an aspiring DJ in pursuit of her own American dream.
Darya’s debut is considered a breakthrough for the country as the first Belarusian feature film to screen at a top international festival since 2004, and its first submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 22 years. The Belarusian film industry is small and largely unsupported by the government, making it incredibly difficult to produce independent features.
Crystal Swan had its world premiere at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in June 2018, where it was nominated for the East of West Award, and the film has since gone on to win the Grand Prix at Tbilisi, Odessa and Almaty International Film Festivals, the Russian Film Critics Award for Best Film, and Best Co-Production at the Window To Europe, Vyborg.
In the film’s earlier stages, Crystal Swan was selected to participate in international work-in-progress sessions during Tribeca Film Festival, Cottbus International Film Festival, POFF Black Nights in Tallinn, and Vilnius International Film Festival. It won the best International work-in-progress at Tallinn’s Black Nights.
Slamdance Festival Screenings:
- Sat, 1/26, 12:45pm, Ballroom
- Wed, 1/30, 3:15pm, Gallery
About the Director
Belarus-born award-winning film director Darya Zhuk unexpectedly discovered filmmaking while studying Economics at Harvard. Her short films have premiered at Independent film festivals such as SXSW, Tarkovsky, Oaxaca, Atlanta, Palm Springs, Koroche, and Santa Fe. She is a graduate of Columbia University MFA program in New York City. Darya lives and creates between Minsk and Brooklyn. Crystal Swan is her feature debut.