Screened as part of NZIFF 2019

Crystal Swan 2018


Directed by Darya Zhuk

Determined to follow the siren’s call of house music and escape the confines of her 90s Eastern Bloc existence, a young DJ’s aspirations are dented when she’s forced to prove the reality of a bogus job on her visa form.

Belarus / Germany / Russia / USA In Russian with English subtitles
93 minutes DCP



Birgit Gernböck
Olga Goister
Debbie Vandermeulen
Valery Dmitrotchenko


Helga Landauer
Darya Zhuk


Carolina Costa


Sergey Dmitrenko
Michal Leszczylowski

Production designer

Andrey Tolstik


Alina Nasibullina (Velya)
Ivan Mulin (Stepan)
Yuriy Borisov (Alik)
Svetlana Anikey (Velya’s mother)
Lyudmila Razumova (Alya, Stepan’s mother)
Natalya Onishenko (Angela, Vika’s mother)
Vyacheslav Shakalido (Mikhalych, Stepan’s father)
Anastasia Garvey (Vika, bride)


London 2018


Instead of leaving Minsk for Chicago, where the house music she adores was born, a young DJ’s dream of relocating to the States is threatened by bureaucracy. Dressed like she’s ready to hit the clubs at any given moment, Alina Nasibullina is a ball of fire as Velya, who finds herself stuck in a bleak factory town and at the mercy of dodgy friends, even crazier locals and the US Embassy in Belarus.

Crystal Swan may be set in the culturally specific context of mid-1990s Minsk, but there are restless young women like Velya… in every decade in every backwater town. A rainbow-haired bohemian butterfly dreaming of brighter lights in bigger cites, Velya is anxious to escape the stifling provincialism of her homeland and seek her fortune as a club DJ in America. At home in Minsk she has a clownish junkie boyfriend… and an eccentric hippie mother… who is a patriotic museum official who strongly disapproves of her daughter's emigration schemes – which only makes Velya’s escape plan more enticing, of course…

On learning that embassy officials will call to check her bogus employment references, Velya feels her American Dream slipping through her fingers.” — Stephen Dalton, Hollywood Reporter