By Amanda Gilmore
Nika is an outstanding film that tells the story of one woman while being able to resonate to many.
It tells the true story of the once world-famous Soviet child Poetess, Nika Turbina (Elizaveta Yankovskaya), who stopped writing and reciting her poetry at the age of 14. The Film takes place in the 1990s when Nika is 27 and full of uncertainty about her creative future. She decides she wants to become an actress. Due to age restrictions, she only has one final year to apply. However, when memories of her traumatic past surface they threaten her last shot at getting into Drama School.
Director and Co-Writer Vasilisa Kuzmina gives us a coming-of-age film for a late 20’s woman through Nika’s harrowing biographical story. It’s a story of finding what makes us happy and achieving our dreams. However, it also depicts how debilitating past-traumas, and in this case current traumas, can be.
In one scene, Nika is asked why she stopped creating and reciting her Poetry. She says it stopped making her happy. We learn this is only half true. Nika’s mother was the cause for her past-traumas. Through the skillful Direction and Editing, by Aleksey Starchenko, cuts are made to flip back-and-forth in time. We go from 14-year-old to 27-year-old Nika. Showing how past wounds have halted the creative life inside her that’s begging to break free.
Nika is portrayed with a tour-de-force performance from Yankovskaya. It comes as no surprise that she took the Special Jury Recognition Award for Breakthrough Performance at SXSW ’22. She exudes the suffocation Nika feels from her oppressive mother and the mix of fear and excitement she carries for starting a new creative life. In the final act, Yankovskaya gives a heartbreaking performance when Nika hits a breaking point where she can no longer smoother her distressing memories.
Overall, Nika is one of the best films to screen at SXSW ’22.
Nika screens at SXSW ’22 as follows:
Monday, March 14 at 2:15 PM EST – Alamo Lamar D
Tuesday, March 15 at 4:15 PM EST – Violet Crown Cinema 2
Tuesday, March 15 at 4:45 PM EST – Violet Crown Cinema 4
Thursday, March 17 at 10:00 PM EST – Stateside Theatre
Tuesday, March 15 at 10:00 AM EST – Available for 48 hours