Trained from an early age by rigorous, perfectionist Professor Bojinski, Polina is a promising classic dancer. She is just about to join the prestigious Bolchoï Ballet when she discovers contemporary dance. That throws everything into question on a profound level.
Polina leaves it all behind and moves to France to work with famous choreographer Liria Elsaj. Despite her determination and hard work to the point of obsession, Polina just can't seem to break through. So she moves to Anvers in search of work - and a new life.
Anastasia Shevtsova - Polina
Born in 1995 in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Anastasia Shevtsova developed her love for the arts at an early age. She learned to play violin and piano, paint and sing. At the age of 10, she entered the Russian Academy of Ballet, and graduated nine years later. Anastasia has just joined the Mariinsky Theatre of Saint Petersburg, one of the world's most prestigious ballet companies, with a vast repertory, both classical and modern. Filmed during her last year of training, POLINA is Anastasia's first role on the big screen.
Jérémie Bélingard - Karl
Jérémie Bélingard entered the Paris Opera Ballet School in 1987. In 1993, at the age of 18, he joined the Paris Opera Ballet company. He was awarded the title of Coryphée in 1994, Sujet in 1999 and Premier Danseur in 2001. In 1998, he won the Prix du Cercle Carpeaux, awarded once a year to an exceptional dancer of the Paris Opera Ballet company. On March 28, 2007, after his performance in Don Quixote (Rudolf Noureev), he was awarded the title of Etoile. In 2010, he was knighted with the medal for Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture.
In 2011, Bélingard choreographed Bye Bye Vénus with hip-hop dancers for the Suresnes Cités Dance Festival. He has been featured in numerous advertising campaigns for brands such as Hermès, Sony, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Givenchy.
For film, he created and performed the choreography of the animated film BALLERINA by Eric Summer and Eric Warin, and recently played a role in Laetitia Casta's short film IN ME, presented at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Cannes International Critics' Week.
Jan Bijvoet - Theo
Jan Bijvoet was born in Antwerp in 1966. He has been one of the artistic directors and actors of the Antarctica Theater since 2005. He has also performed in film and television, guest-starring in a number of series. He has starred in the films AD FUNDUM, THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN (Academy® Award nominee), and BORGMAN (Official Selection – Competition, Cannes 2013). In 2007, he was nominated for the Flemish Culture Award of Scenic Arts. Referring to the German explorer who was the inspiration for his character, he reflects that even though Grünberg tried to integrate with the native people, he could not let go of his white spirit. “He had the western way of thinking, and he wanted to carry hundreds of things to study. Love is possession, too. He is also afraid of death. He doesn’t understand why, but it’s because deep down, he is a materialist since his formation, even though he tries to drift away from it.”
Brionne Davis - Evan
Brionne Davis was born in Texas and started acting at a very early age, playing Tom Sawyer. He has starred and taken leading roles in more than 30 independent feature length and short films and television series, including REST STOP: DON’T LOOK BACK (2008), DOROTHY AND THE WITCHES OF OZ (2012), Pandemic (2007), NARCISSIST (2014), SAVAGED (2013), and HOLIDAYS WITH HEATHER (2006). In New York, Brionne starred in the Theatre Row adaptation of Sam Shepard’s “True West.” He has appeared in many theater productions all across the country, including “Wallenburg” at the Soho Playhouse, “A Noble Exile” in Los Angeles and “Nueva York,” a one-man show that he wrote ￼ and produced, inspired by the writings of Tennessee Williams. Davis’ character “Evan” in EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT was inspired by the great botanist and explorer Richard Evans Schultes, and he feels close to him in his love of and search for plants and nature.
Antonio Bolívar Savador - Old Karamakate
Antonio Bolívar Salvador is one of the last survivors of the Ocaina people. He resides near Leticia and has had some previous experiences in filmmaking, but he prefers not to speak about them because he feels that they were disrespectful to his culture. Besides playing one of the main characters, he also served as interpreter for the Tikuna, Cubeo, Huitoto languages and even English, as he became the teacher of the international actors. He represents the best of the Amazonian people: willing to trust foreigners, to transmit their knowledge and thankful to be treated respectfully. That’s the most important aspect of the film to him: “It is a film that shows the Amazon, the lungs of the world, the greater purifying filter and the most valuable of indigenous cultures. That is its greatest achievement.”
Nilbio Torres - Young Karamakate
Nilbio Torres has never set foot in a gym; his amazing physique has been sculpted by the hardships of the jungle and the hard work he’s done since he was little. The 30- year-old has only worked in agriculture and this is his first experience with the cinema. He has a hard time expressing himself in Spanish, as he speaks mostly Cubeo. But he manages to find words to tell what this experience has meant to him. He feels the film is faithful to the story of his ancestors. “What Ciro is doing with this film is an homage to the memory of our elders, in the time before: the way the white men treated the natives, the rubber exploitation. I’ve asked the elders how it was and it is as seen in the film, that’s why we decided to support it. For the elders and myself it is a memory of the ancestors and their knowledge.”
Yauenkü Miguee - Manduca
Yauenkü Miguee was born and raised in Nazareth, a Tikuna community of the Amazon, 26 years ago. He is now a student of physical education in Bogotá and is about to achieve his greatest goal: to become a professional. He defines his participation in the film as a new experience in his life, this time from the field of art and corporal expression, which reinforced his thinking and showed him how to see life from different perspectives. He believes this film should be shared not only with the people of the locations, but all across the country, with all the indigenous peoples in Leticia and the Amazon, with the leaders, in schools and universities. He is the voice of many Manducas, a voice that, far away from the so-called civilization, cries out for a more civilized attitude towards Colombia’s indigenous communities.
Valérie Müller - Director, Screenwriter
While studying the History of Art and Cinema, Valérie Müller worked as an assistant director and production assistant.
She then made several documentaries - AVANT LA PARADE (1994), PORTRAIT EN MOUVEMENT (1996), L’EFFET CASIMIR and REGARD SUR ANGELIN PRELJOCAJ (1999) - and the short films UN MATIN BLANC (1995) with Camille Japy, LA SURFACE DE RÉPARATION (1998) with Marion Cotillard, CELLULE (2003) with Sylvain Groud and Sidi Graoui, and LES HOMMES S’EN SOUVIENDRONT (2007) with Marina Foïs.
In 2009, she co-wrote L’IDENTITÉ with François Favrat and Olivier Soler and in 2012, DELUGE with Salvatore Lista.
In 2013, she directed LE MONDE DE FRED with Olivier Soler, Marina Golovine, Virginie Ledoyen, Lorant Deutsch and Vahina Giocante.
With her production company LITHIUM FILMS, she co-produced the film TINY DANSERS (2007) by Eva Husson, short films LES HOMMES S’EN SOUVIENDRONT and CELLULE, and feature-length film LE MONDE DE FRED, which she also directed, as well as LA DERNIÈRE PERLE (2015) by Angelin Preljocaj, still in development, and the documentary ELDORADO (2007), directed by Olivier Assayas.
POLINA is the second feature-length film she has co-directed with Angelin Preljocaj.
Born in France to Albanian parents, Angelin Preljocaj studied classical dance and then turned to contemporary dance with Karin Waehner. In 1980, he left for New York to work with Zena Rommett and Merce Cunningham, then continued his study in France with American choreographer Viola Farber and the French Quentin Rouillier. He then joined Dominique Bagouet dance company until he created his own company in 1985. He has since choreographed 49 pieces, from solos to large ensembles.
Preljocaj has often collaborated with other artists, such as Enki Bilal (Romeo and Juliet, 1990), Goran Vejvoda (Landscape After the Battle, 1997), Air (Near Life Experience, 2003), Granular Synthesis ("N", 2004), Fabrice Hyber (The Four Seasons, 2005), Karlheinz Stockhausen (Eldorado - Sonntags Abschied, 2007), Jean Paul Gaultier (Snow White, 2008), Constance Guisset (Le Funambule, 2009), Claude Lévêque (Siddharta, 2010), Laurent Garnier and Subodh Gupta (And Then, One Thousand Years of Peace, 2010), Azzedine Alaïa and Natacha Atlas (The Nights, 2013).
Preljocaj's creations have become repertory around the world and his work is commissioned by dance companies such as the New York City Ballet, La Scala de Milan, and the Paris Opera Ballet.
After directing short films Le Postier and Idées Noires en 1991, his first feature-length film Un Trait d’Union (1992) earned him the 1992 Vidéo-Danse 1st Prize and 1993 Prague Video Festival Prize, followed by Annonciation (2003), for which he was awarded the Grand Prix du Film d’Art in 2003. In 2009, he directed Snow White, and in 2011 he created the commercial L’Envol for Air France, based on the choreography of Le Parc.
Preljocaj has also collaborated on several films of his own choreographic work: Les Raboteurs with Cyril Collard (based on the painting by Gustave Caillebotte) in 1988, Pavillon Noir with Pierre Coulibeuf in 2006 and Eldorado/Preljocaj with Olivier Assayas in 2007.
The many books written about his work include Angelin Preljocaj (Actes Sud, 2003), Pavillon Noir (Xavier Barral, 2006), Angelin Preljocaj, Topologie de l’invisible (Naïve, 2008), Angelin Preljocaj, de la création à la mémoire de la danse (Belles Lettres, 2011) and Angelin Preljocaj (La Martinière, 2015), published on the 30-year anniversary of his dance company.
Throughout his career, Preljocaj has earned numerous awards, including the “Grand Prix National de la Danse” from the French Ministry of Culture in 1992, the “Benois de la Danse” for Le Parc in 1995, the “Bessie Award” for Annonciation in 1997, “Les Victoires de la musique” for Romeo and Juliet in 1997 and the “Globe de Cristal” for Snow White in 2009. The French Minister of Culture has knighted him “Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur” and awarded him the honorific titles “Officier des Arts et des Lettres” and “Officier de l'Ordre du Mérite.” In 2014, he earned the Samuel H. Scripps/ American Dance Festival Lifetime Achievement Award.
Since October 2006, the Preljocaj Ballet and its 24 company members work and create in the Pavillon Noir in Aix-en-Provence, a space consecrated entirely to dance.
POLINA is Preljocaj's first fiction film, co-directed with Valérie Müller.