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Her name is Yula. She lives in Putin’s Russia. Her home is the largest garbage dump in Europe. This is the story of her life.

Ten-year-old Yula has but one dream – to lead a normal life. For 14 years, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Hanna Polak follows Yula as she grows up in the forbidden territory of Svalka, the garbage dump located 13 miles from the Kremlin in Putin’s Russia.

Something Better To Come is Yula’s story – a dramatic tale of coming of age and maturing to the point of taking destiny into one’s own hands. It is a story of hope, courage, and life, all shot in gripping vérité style.

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Nominated for the 2004 Academy Award® for Best Documentary, Short Subject, this documentary takes an intimate and heartbreaking look at a group of homeless children living in and around a Moscow train station.

Polish filmmakers Hanna Polak and Andrzej Celinski captured numerous intimate and heartbreaking scenes in this raw, verité documentary, which combines footage of the children and Moscow authorities with alarming statistics about homelessness and its devastating effects in post-Soviet Russia.

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Children of Leningradsky
nominated Academy
Awards - Best Documentary
Short Subject 2004

IDA - International
Documentary Association

Short Award!
Children of Leningradsky

Children of Leningradsky
received 2 emmy nominations

best documentary and for outstanding editing


Hanna Polak's art photography - selected works. Everydays life of homeless
children in Moscow. To see the full size photos please click the thumbnails.

Oscar and Emmy-nominated filmmaker, Hanna Polak is known for her socially engaged documentaries, which have been awarded and screened internationally. In her films, Polak addresses issues of global importance, including homelessness and poverty. Born in Poland in 1967, Polak graduated with the Master Degree from the Cinematography division of the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK), in Moscow.
In 2004 Polak completed her documentary film, The Children of Leningradsky, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject). It also received the Best Documentary Achievement Award from the International Documentary Association and it was nominated for an Emmy Award in two categories: Best Documentary and Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Editing. This film was also nominated to be a Notable Video by the Adult American Library Association, and it has received the Gracie Allen Award, given by the American Women in Radio & Television, amongst many other awards.

Polak’s additional works include, Al – Tribute to Albert Maysles; Faces of Homelessness; Battle of Warsaw 1920 in 3D, and many others. She directed and produced Love and Rubbish, for the Why Poverty? series in 2012, which won A Corto di Donne Women’s Short Film Festival. In 2003, she was awarded Best Producer of Documentary Movies at the Krakow Film Festival for Railway Station Ballad.

In 2014 Polak has completed her documentary film Something Better To Come, which received the IDFA Special Jury Award, and won main prizes at several film festivals, including Filmfest München, Documentary Edge Festival, Docs Against Gravity, ArtDoc Fest in Moscow, Trieste Film Festival, EuroDok Film Festival, International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights, One World Film Festival and won other film festivals and awards.

Polak’s works as a producer, director, and cinematographer have appeared on major television networks worldwide including HBO, ABC, Canal+, France 2, Fuji Television, ITN, TVP (Poland), TVN (Poland), Belgian Radio and TV, and many other TV stations. Her films have been screened in hundreds film festivals around the world, including Sundance Film Festival, IDFA, Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, True/False Film Festival, and FIPA.

In 2006, Polak’s photography works won her third prize in the UNICEF International Photography Competition Photo of the Year. For her cinematography work for Stone Silence, shot in Afghanistan, she was awarded with the Artistic Mastery of Photographing award from the Kiev Film Festival. For her cinematography work for Something Better to Come, she was awarded with the Best Cinematography award from Gdansk DocFilm Festival and with Canon Non Fiction Frame Special Mention from Docs Against Gravity film festival.

Polak has collaborated with different aid agencies to help unprivileged children. For her charitable efforts, Polak was awarded the prestigious Golden Heart Award, the “Award for serving the uppermost ideals of mankind” by NTV (Russia), and the Crystal Mirror award by the Mirror magazine in Poland, an award that recognizes “people of dialogue, those who unite, not divide.”

She has lectured on documentary filmmaking at many universities worldwide, including UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, North Carolina, Chapel Hill; University of Guadalajara, Mexico; North Texas University; Monterey Institute of International Studies, California; Middlebury College, Vermont; University of Hawaii, Honolulu, and many others.

Polak was a jury member at the Krakow Film Festival and the Document International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival in Glasgow, Scotland; she was a tutor for the EsoDoc workshop; and she was an expert for the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (Poland), evaluating documentary projects for the Polish Film Institute.

Filmography (selected)
2014 Something Better To Come – director | DoP | producer
2010 The Officer’s Wife – DoP
2010 Warsaw Battle 1920 in 3D – director | DoP
2010 Faces of Homelessness – director | DoP
2007 Kamienna Cisza – DoP
2005 The Children of Leningradsky – director | DoP | producer
2004 Al. Tribute to Albert Maysles – director | DoP | producer
2003 Railway Station Ballad – DoP | producer

email: hanna@hannapolak.com

US CELL PHONE > +1 773 322 2949
PL CELL PHONE > +48 504 198 007
skype > hanna_polak

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