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By Bobby LePire | September 18, 2022

TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2022 REVIEW! Documentarian Sarah McCarthy’s Anastasia may only run 27 minutes, but its impact will be felt for much longer. Anastasia Shevchenko is the first person ever to be found guilty of “organizing activity of an undesirable organization” by the Russian justice system. She was sentenced to four years, though it was suspended. However, bear in mind that all Shevchenko did was speak out against Putin and his government.

Of Shevchenko’s three children, Vlada and Misha were allowed to live with their grandmother. However, her teenage daughter, Alina, was stuck in a state home ill-equipped to properly take care of her. All the while, headlines were less than fair or flattering about the mother. Unfortunately, while jailed, tragedy struck and Alina died. Now, Shevchenko is taking her surviving kids and mother to the Black Sea on an unforgettable, emotional trek.

“…while jailed, tragedy struck and Alina died.”

Through heartfelt interviews, stunning cinematography, and precise editing, McCarthy turns Anastasia into much more than a political look at life in Russia. Is this short that? Yes, it is. But it is also a touching chronicle of a loving mother and her family. Shevchenko wishes what happened to her will never happen again, but she did what she did so that her children could live more freely once they become adults.

Anastasia will move all who watch it. McCarthy perfectly maintains the balance between the personal and political due to the expert editing. The glorious cinematography captures the subject’s high emotional state, while the pacing keeps everything tense and engaging.

Anastasia screened at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.

Anastasia (2022)

Directed and Written: Sarah McCarthy

Starring: Anastasia Shevchenko, etc.

Movie score: 10/10

Anastasia Image

"…heartfelt interviews, stunning cinematography, and precise editing..."

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