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Anna Melikian Russia 2008 119'

Once upon a time … is the best way to tell the incredible story of the adventures of the ‘mermaid' Alisa in the Russian capital Moscow. There was a time when Alisa lived by the sea. Her life was nothing out of the ordinary. She dreamed of one day dancing in a ballet; she sang in a children's choir and attended a special school, because, at the age of six, she suddenly stopped speaking. None of which would be noteworthy, were it not for the fact that Alisa possessed a remarkable gift: the ability to fulfil wishes. At the age of 18 she leaves her coastal town for Moscow, where her destiny soon takes hold and she meets him … a man whose desire to be saved and protected is pretty much written all over him. Alisa takes him by the hand – and this changes her life.

This film by Azerbaijani director Anna Melikian is a modern fairy tale in which age-old myths and youthful imagination are merged in a surreal urban romance. The dream-like storyline is mirrored by the visual approach Anna Melikian has chosen to recount the adventures of a ‘mermaid' who finds herself washed up inland.