Tzarevna Scaling is the feature film debut by Uldus Bakhtiozina bringing the vivid imagery, shock stylistics and richness in detail that are signature to her artwork to the yet unexplored media. The artist puts a broader canvas of the format to telling a story important to her in reflecting her own biography – the story of trial and transformation that lie within the necessity of overcoming despair – and, curated by this creative, the narrative is coloured vitality and bursting with laughter over social reality.
The protagonist, a fish van attendant named Polina Schukina, is struggling through some tough times when a peculiar babushka approaches for some cat deli. The treats Polina serves to her are returned by a journey into the world of tzareven – graceful female crown characters of Russian folk tales – that turns out to be spelled with bureaucracy and composed of hollow corridors and waiting rooms where girls as common as the heroine are queuing up to reveal “tzarevenness” within them. Polina sets to a track of qualification proof for this ‘extraordinarily competitive profession’ and a folk tale subject suited for her to be elected.
With the fantastical and the trivial, the traditional and the marginal, the dramatic and the utterly funny woven layers upon layers together, a spectator is lured deep into the parable realm of the picture; its author, it seems, has succeeded in delivering a fresh actual revision of the folk tale film genre that is ever the cornerstone of the Russian lineage of cinema.
Uldus Bakhtiozina, a fisherman’s daughter, would like to dedicate this work to her father.