Writer/Director Ella Manzheeva’s film The Gulls (Chaiky, Russian Federation) is one of five films nominated for the UNESCO award in the 9th Asia Pacific Screen Awards.
Manzheeva was born in 1981 in Elista, Republic of Kalmykia, Russia. She studied music since childhood and graduated from the Musical College, with specialization in the violin.
In 2005 she graduated from St. Petersburg State University of Film and Television, specializing as Sound Director, from the class of Professor Grigoriy Frank. In 2007 she entered the Postgraduate School of Scriptwriters and Film Directors, Moscow, Russia, specializing as director.
Already in 2015, Ella Manzheeva’s film, featuring international fashion model Evgeniya Mandzhieva and produced by Elena Glikman and Yaroslav Zhivov, has been awarded Best Debut at the Sochi Open Russian Film Festival, where it was also nominated for Grand Prize of the Festival.
This feature debut from Manzheeva is the first film to be shot in the Republic of Kalmykia in 25 years.
Manzheeva describes the film as, “a parable set against the background of modern Kalmykia.”
“This is a story of a poacher’s wife and it takes place in a small town on the shore of the Caspian Sea,” she said.
“We often associate our troubles and the failure with the people that are around us. By shifting the responsibility over to them we justify our weakness, laziness, lack of willpower and thought.
“However, happiness is within each one of us, and we are the only ones who can let ourselves be happy, daring, free or unhappy.
“This film is about the energy of life. Slow down. Listen. Listen to yourself and you will hear others.
“When time finds its space there comes an incredible happiness and freedom, freedom of the soul.
“I would like it for the viewers to trust themselves more, rely on their own unique experience and character so that film’s drama lives on in their minds and everyone were able to create their own final, learn their own moral lesson.
“I’m not trying to convey a particular message by creating this story — I simply ask a question. And may everyone respond in their own way.”
The Gulls is also nominated at APSA for Best Performance by an Actress. Determined by the APSA International Jury, the APSA UNESCO Award recognises outstanding contribution to the promotion and preservation of the cultural diversity through the medium of film.