A touching drama about the tragedy of violence by Natalia Meshchaninova, which had its premiere at the 52nd International Film Festival Rotterdam.
Mira is 14 years old and lives with her mother, little sister, and stepfather. She and her best friend are getting ready for their first New Year party. On that evening Mira gets to know a group of older kids, falls in love, and forgets about her everyday life, where violence lurks in the shadows.
In 2017, screenwriter and director Natalia Meshchaninova’s debut volume of short stories, which included the theme of violence, was published by Seans. Her own experiences put down on paper formed the basis of My Little Night-Time Secret. The film is a personal expression of a type that has long not been seen in the industry.
Meshchaninova has a rare sensitivity for language. Her dialogues, words, and even the interjections made by adults of various ages and drunk and sober teenagers reproduce real speech, erasing the boundary between life and the screen. This effect of hyperrealism allows the viewer into a neon teenage world where they follow Mira on an endless New Year’s Eve that involves being in adult company, clumsy flirting with a boy she hardly knows, and the moment when has to play the music from her playlist for everyone and make her presence known. This kaleidoscope of events distracts us from the basis of the film, violence that can be enacted at any moment. There is a total lack of protection from this danger, which is shown on screen in a way that has not yet become an act of documenting. At those times when the teenage consciousness of the main character does not distract the viewer from the awful reality of Mira’s home life, My Little Night-Time Secret seems like a horror film, where there is no hope of being saved.
The film can be compared to the early works of Valeria Gai-Germanika, with whom Natalia Meshchaninova worked on the series School, an accurate description of teenagers in the 2010s. My Little Night-tTme Secret is similarly uncompromising. Both films forced their way into the history of Russian cinema thanks to the depth of their existential experiences, the maximal reality of the images on screen, and the details of the characters’ images—clothes, movements, the worrying familiar everyday life of poor Russian families. They make an immediate appeal to all of the senses and remain lodged in the memory.
The screening will be followed by a Q& A with the film’s director Natalia Meshchaninova.
My Little Night-Time Secret
Director Natalia Meshchaninova
Russia, 2023. 90 min.