To Live

: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Production


Spurred by her own desire to feel whole, a young filmmaker rushes against time to capture her grandmother’s life in a small village in Belarus when family secrets begin to emerge revealing a legacy of deceit, survival, and enduring strength of a family bond.


In a Belarusian village, solitary Nina becomes the subject of her granddaughter's camera, aiming to preserve a fading culture. Through filming, hidden family secrets and tales surface, propelling the granddaughter on an unprecedented journey of discovery, challenging the unexamined corners of their shared history in a poignant exploration of heritage. 

Nina's story is artfully interwomen with the daily life of her granddaughter who lives in Arizona. This demonstrates that in the face of an unsurmountable cultural divide that separates them, there is something that still unites them. But plagued by her inability to be close to her grandmother, Nataliya begins to question her own past.  


The story is produced by creating an intimate world of Nina. By focusing on separate body parts, we hope to invite the viewer into the body of an aged woman. We also rely on separate body parts to transition to different seasons. The intention is to show Nina as microscopically as possible to demonstrate her vulnerability and humanness. Another artistic element is the focus on nature. We use the same microscopic approach to create an outside world that is representative of the world that Nina lived in for most of her life. 

When Nina is around her family, the camera work is more shaky and unfocused inducing a feeling of chaos, anxiety, and commotion. But I think the main feature of this film is the detail to face. I think a face can tell a lot more than words and by showing face up close, one can get emotions from the eyes and mouth. These emotions could be the only thing that the viewer will remember from the film and that is the point.


Nataliya Apanovich - Director/Cinematographer

Nataliya was born and raised in southern Belarus in a region known for its marshes and forests. Growing up, she was taught that her subsistence cutlure was primitive and insignificant. It was only after spending decades away from home that Nataliya realized the value of her people. To Live came out of desire to pay tribute to her maternal grandmother - one of the last carriers of that culture.

Nataliya holds a doctoral degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Biorenewable Resources and Technology from Iowa State University and is currently working as a lecturer at the University of Arizona. Nataliya wrote a memoir about her life in Belarus and is preparing a second poetry collection. 

To Live is Nataliya's directorial debut.

Evgeny V. - Cinematographer/Editor

Evgeny has worked as a cinematographer and editor for over a decade. He has experience with both fiction and documentary films with a focus on independent cinema. He was educated at the Academy of Arts in Minsk, Belarus. Evgeny specializes in post-production. 

Lisanne Skyler - Advisor

Lisanne Skyler is the writer/director of numerous award-winning fiction and documentary films including the South Central LA documentary No Loans Today (Sundance Film Festival), the critically acclaimed feature film Getting To Know You (Sundance Film Festival, Venice Film Festival), and the HBO Documentary Film Brillo Box (3¢ off), an official selection of the 54th New York Film Festival.

Tatum Sailors - Cinematographer

Tatum Sailors is an Arizona-raised Cinematographer who is currently finishing her BFA in Film Production at the University of Arizona. Her short documentary, At 7, screened at leading festivals across the country including San Diego Comic-Con and the Academy-Award qualifying Chicago International Children’s Film Festival. She has served as the director of photography on ten short films, garnering the I Dream In Widescreen 2023 Excellence in Cinematography Award. 


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