"Danya" is the story of a troubled 8-year-old who is determined to find out about her late mother, but her repressed father is unable to reach out to her. An elderly Bulgarian woman ... See full summary »

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5 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Maddi Newling ...
Danya
Stela Solar
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"Danya" is the story of a troubled 8-year-old who is determined to find out about her late mother, but her repressed father is unable to reach out to her. An elderly Bulgarian woman provides a bridge. Set in neighboring terrace houses in an autumnal Sydney, Danya considers how three generations deal with death. Written by Anonymous

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Short | Drama

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October 2005 (USA)  »

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1.85 : 1
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Lighting, camera-work, and score emphasize the distance in one relationship and the intimacy in another
16 February 2007 | by (Boston, MA, United States) – See all my reviews

How do you successfully pair up a veteran actor and an eight-year-old child with no acting experience whatsoever? Good directing. How do you successfully explore a relationship between two people when one of them will never stop asking questions and the other will never start answering them? Good writing.

Writer/director Beth Armstrong achieves both of these feats in her short film DANYA, starring the pitch-perfect newcomer Maddi Newling and the veteran actor Ian Bliss, who could teach a course entitled "Acting Without Dialogue." Ms. Armstrong's use of dramatic lighting, camera-work, and score emphasize the distance in one of the story's relationships and the intimacy in another. When Danya is with her father, Patrick, the frame almost always tells us that these two people must be mindful of each other's space, and that the inquisitive Danya must always be aware of her father's proximity. When Danya is with her friend Mrs. Rakovski—played by newcomer Lija Veikins with a freedom and eccentricity that rings true—the frame accentuates closeness and trust.

Danya, Patrick, and Mrs. Rakovski each live in a world of isolation. Danya has questions about her late mother, but her father refuses to discuss the issue. Patrick, in an attempt to cope with the loss of his wife, tries desperately to cut himself off from any memory of her, but Danya's continual questioning makes this impossible. Mrs. Rakovski lives a solitary life with no one to share her dreams, memories, and thoughts except Danya, an eight-year-old girl who can't understand love and loss the way an adult can. When Mrs. Rakovski dies, Patrick—in a particularly moving scene—must tend to the body. This moment stresses not only the impossibility of Patrick's attempt to ignore death, but the responsibility he has to discuss the subject with his daughter.

In the end, DANYA is not a movie that attempts to answer questions about death or the afterlife. In fact, it's too smart for that. Instead, DANYA reminds us that answering questions about death is not nearly as important as facing it.

-- Aaron & Seth Howland (Boston Motion Picture Awards)


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