In ‘Polina,’ co-directors Valérie Müller and Angelin Preljocaj, a world-renowned choreographer, explore a young dancer’s quest for her creative heart
Anastasia Shevtsova was chosen for the title role of Polina after co-directors Valérie Müller and Anjelin Preljocaj looked at more than 600 dancers and actors for the part. (Photo courtesy of “Polina”)
Anastasia Shevtsova plays the title role in “Polina.” (Photo courtesy of “Polina”)
In “Polina,” a young Russian ballerina gives up a spot in the Bolshoi Ballet to pursue her own artistic spirit.
Niels Schneider, left, plays Adrien, a fellow dancer and love interest of Polina, right, played by Anastasia Shevtsova in the film “Polina.” (Photo courtesy of “Polina”)
Actress Juliette Binoche had studied and performed contemporary dance in addition to her day job, making her a perfect casting choice for co-directors Valérie Müller and Angelin Preljocaj in the role of a choreographer similar to Preljocaj in “Polina.” (Photo courtesy of “Polina”)
Choreographer Angelin Preljocaj co-directed the film “Polina” with his wife Valérie Müller. (Photo courtesy of the artist)
Valérie Müller co-directed “Polina” with her choreographer husband Angelin Preljocaj. (Photo courtesy of “Polina”)
Jeremie Belingard, left, plays Karl, opposite Anastasia Shevtsova as Polina in the film “Polina.” (Photo courtesy of “Polina”)
As Valérie Müller and Angelin Preljocaj searched a few years ago for a project on which the French couple could collaborate they came across “Polina,” a graphic novel about a young dancer in search of her artistic soul, and in it found a film almost perfectly suited for the married filmmaker and choreographer.
“I had already done some documentary films about dance and I was looking to make a film that would be a fictional film but would also be set in the world of dance,” Müller said by phone from home in France a few weeks before their adaptation of “Polina” debuted in Southern California this month.
“And so we found the novel,” she continued, speaking through a translator. “There are even some references to Angelin’s choreography in the novel itself, so there was a connection there.”
Both she and Preljocaj, the founder of the world-renowned Preljocaj Ballet in Aix-en-Provence, France, were familiar with the work of comic book artist-writer Bastien Vivès, and admired the way in which his words and image fleshed out each character. And in Polina, he’d created a protagonist with particular appeal, Müller says.
In the film, Polina is a young Russian girl who grows up in a…