Little Minx signs Balagov and Kovalenko for branded entertainment, fashion and music projects
Little Minx has hired award-winning directors Kantemir Balagov, 30, and Kira Kovalenko, 32, for branded entertainment projects, fashion films and music. The two will work as a team on all projects. The Telluride Film Festival was instrumental in their relocation for their outspokenness against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Now based in California, Balagov and Kovalenko will be guest directors at the Telluride festival this fall. Both became international sensations at the Cannes Film Festival and their work has also been honored at many other film festivals around the world.
Balagov’s second feature film, Bean (2019), won the FIPRESCI (International Film Critics) award and the Best Director award in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival, and was shortlisted for the Oscar for best international film in December 2019. Bean was called “a punch” and “a brilliantly told and deeply moving love story”, by Manohla Dargis for The New York Times. Balagov’s feature debut, Proximity (2017), also won the FIPRESCI Prize at Un Certain Regard at Cannes.
Kovalenko’s second feature film, Unclench fists (2021) won the Grand Prix Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival and was Russia’s official Oscar entry last year. Slate wrote that its “urgent, unsentimental approach” made the film “so powerful,” while Indiewire proclaimed Kovalenko “a bold filmmaker’s voice”. Bean and Unclench fists were produced by Alexander Rodyansky’s Non-Stop Productions and acclaimed Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov, who taught and mentored Kovalenko and Balagov at Kabardino-Balkarian State University film school.
“Bean just blew my mind,” said Little Minx President Rhea Scott. “I became obsessed with Kantemir from that point on. Specifically, I was baffled that such a powerful film could come from someone so young. So when Jérôme Duboz – who also manages Bong Joon – ho and Ruben Ostlund – called me, I jumped in. Jérôme also introduced me to Kira. Unclench fists transported me immediately; itself is a force in its own right. We are in a unique position to see them collaborate and it is an honor to be at the start of their journey together in the United States.
An avid gamer, Balagov recently directed two episodes (including the pilot) for HBO The last of usa series based on the video game of the same name, produced by Sony Pictures Television and PlayStation Productions and slated for release in 2023. He is currently rewriting a feature film project titled Monica, originally planned to shoot in his hometown of Nalchik, but he is adapting the story for New Jersey. Rodnyansky, who has a first deal with Apple, is attached to production.