Director: Anna Melikyan
Screenwriters: Anna Melikyan

Institute History

  • 2008 Sundance Film Festival


Once upon a time a girl named Alisa lived by the sea. She let life carry her along, never struggling, always adapting to changing conditions and historical events. The only unusual thing about Alisa was her gift of making wishes come true. When she found herself in metropolitan Moscow, chance took her by the hand and introduced her to a man with a cross on his chest that read "save and protect." Alisa took one look at the man, and her life changed forever.

This romance provides the framework on which writer/director Anna Melikyan hangs her dreams. Superbly conceived, brilliantly executed, it’s a modern-day fairy tale, containing surreal humor while reveling in the world of a girl’s imagination. Immensely visually inventive, the style is used to perfection to carry the story. Never does the fancy camera trickery get in the way of the plot. Instead, it accentuates and brings to life the unique world where Alisa lives. Critical to the charm of the film is the performance by Masha Shalaeva. Stare into her eyes for a second, and you will be lost in a world of wonder and savvy innocence.

Fusing myth, dream, and warped reality with abundant invention, the film is an ingenious vision of dark enchantment. Mermaid marks the emergence of a marvelously gifted filmmaker and represents commercial art-house cinema at its very best.

— Trevor Groth

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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