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Life of Ivanna (2021)


Ivanna is a young woman who belongs to the indigenous people "Nenet" from the Russian Arctic.

Motivated by the deteriorating living conditions in the tundra and climate change, she wants a fresh start. She leaves the traditional lifestyle of Nenet's reindeer herding and emigrates to the city with her five children.

An intimate depiction of a woman and her feelings in a violent transition of life.

Ivanna, a 26-year-old mother of five children, is living in the Arctic region in northwest Siberia.  She lives a traditional nomadic life, driving her herd of reindeer at the tundra as her family did for centuries. But due to the environmental side effects of climate change most of her reindeers are dying and she knows that she will soon be ruined and forced to make a dramatic decision.

Her husband, Gena, has already left the family. He moved to the city, hoping to find a job as an oil worker in the Russian oil fields but didn’t succeed and spends his time drinking and fighting.

Ivanna is willing to give her marriage a last chance. She will give up her traditional life, leave the tundra, move to the city, and get a job at Gazprom. But time has changed, Gena became violent and alcoholic and Ivanna realizes that the civilized city life is not what she expected.

But there is no way back, Ivanna will have to take life into her own hands and secure a future for her and her five children.

The film follows Ivanna and her family closely for four years through her dramatic life-changes, from the harsh life at the tundra to the modern life in the Siberian city of Norilsk.

Watch our trailer:

Format & Length

Feature Documentary.

  • Format & Length: HD 52/80 min available

  • Director: Renato Borrayo Serrano

  • Written by: Daria Sidorova, Renato Borrayo Serrano

  • Main Producer: Vladislav Ketkovich - Ethnofund

  • Co-Producers: Mette Cheng Munthe-Kaas - Ten Thousand Images, Pertti Veialainen - Illume Oy, Marianna Kaat - Baltic Film Production

  • Cinematography: Daria Sidorova, Renato Borrayo Serrano

  • Editor: Inge-Lise Langfeldt, Renato Borrayo Serrano

  • Additional Editors: Mette Cheng Munthe-Kaas, Phil Jandaly

  • Music: Timo Steiner

  • Sound Design: Israel Banuelos

  • Financed by: Renato Borrayo Serrano, Ethnofund, Marina Razbezhkina, Viken Filmsenter, Fritt ord Foundation, Estonian Film Institute, Eesti Kultuurkapital, Norwegian Film institute

  • Distributor: Cat & Docs



Nine Best of the Fests Must-Sees at DOC NYC

"Life of Ivanna is one preconceived-notion-upending film. The story of an Arctic woman struggling to raise five young children as her often abusive husband spends more time drinking than working is a situation sure to strike concern in the hearts of many — alhough the chain-smoking, no-nonsense protagonist at the heart of this particular tale would likely scoff at anyone’s condescending sympathies. Indeed, with steely will the titular, tough-as-nails member of the Nenets of the tundra is able to stare down whiteouts and subzero temperatures inside a single-room, reindeer-drawn dwelling (as hubby attempts to make ends meet at a gas plant back in the city). And she does so with a quintet of hyperactive kiddies in tow."

Filmmaker Magazine, November 10th, 2021

"Some documentaries are so unique, intimate and powerful, that they transform us in unexpected ways, remaining in our memories for a lifetime. Transporting us into a world few of us have ever seen, for a remarkable story of womanhood and resilience that somehow manages to capture an entire universe of humanity within the confines of a small habitat in the far reaches of the Tundra."

Jury Statement for the El Gouna Golden star

"... what truly stands out in Life of Ivanna is the enigmatic yet starkly honest portrayal of Ivanna’s character: a woman whose life decisions and strength are incredible. With her unflinching, spontaneous gaze to the camera, she neither allows us to pity her, or to doubt her strength."

The Calvert Journal, June 2nd 2021

"The jaw drops when watching this poetic film Life of Ivanna about a strong woman with a desolate life".  ** 5 Hearts **

Politiken, April 30th, 2021

"A Stark, Striking Portrait of a Tough Tundra Nomad"

Variety, April 28th, 2021

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"Serrano’s film follows the adage that the best way to learn about people in general is to look at one person very carefully. Because the deeper you look inside one individual, the more of the outside world, and of all people, and all of life you’ll find reflected. For life is so much bigger on the inside."

Business Doc Europe, April 25th, 2021


"Life of Ivanna is one of those rare films which combines an extremely charismatic lead with beautifully artistic direction."

Backseat Mafia, April 24th, 2021

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