Would-be prima ballerinas at Russia's prestigious Perms Order of Honor Choreographic School strive for perfection while contending with body image problems, bloody toes and abusive teachers in the enthralling docu "A Beautiful Tragedy."

Would-be prima ballerinas at Russia’s prestigious Perms Order of Honor Choreographic School strive for perfection while contending with body image problems, bloody toes and abusive teachers in the enthralling docu “A Beautiful Tragedy.” This second Russia-set project by helmer-lenser David Kinsella, a Northern Irish expat living in Norway, and researcher-scribe Anna Sirota (after their prize-winning “Letters From a Children’s Prison”) went out on Norwegian airwaves in February. Pic’s compelling examination of the young dancers’ world of beauty and pain during nine years of study makes it ideal fodder for global broadcasters and niche fests.

Main subject is Oksana Skorik, a sensitive teen with perfect legs, forced to live out her mother’s dream at an academy so elite that 500 children audition annually and only 30 are accepted. One of several girls with anorexia, Oksana is also socially isolated, scribbling in her diary while the others mingle. However, even her most confident classmates wither under insults hurled by living legend Ludmilla Sakharova, the school’s artistic director. Beautifully shot in widescreen, with visual and sound effects that mirror Oksana’s mental state, the film also incorporates striking animated sequences. Tech credits are tops.

A Beautiful Tragedy

Norway

Production

A Faction Film production. (International sales: DR Intl., Copenhagen.) Produced by Dag Hoel. Directed by David Kinsella. Written by Anna Sirota.

Crew

Camera (color, DigiBeta, widescreen), Kinsella; editor, Serban Georgescu; music, Raymond Enoksen, Geirmund Simonsen. Reviewed on DVD, Chicago, Oct. 23, 2008. (In Reykjavik, Galway, Tromso film festivals.) Running time: 60 MIN.

With

Oksana Skorik, Marie Menshikova, Ludmilla Sakharova.
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