A feature film adaptation of the title story in David Bezmozgis’s acclaimed collection Natasha and Other Stories is in the works, with production scheduled for Toronto this summer. The film, to be shot half in Russian, will be directed by Bezmozgis, 39, who has also written the screenplay.
The story revolves around the Bermans: Bella, Roman and their 16-year old son, Mark, Russian Jews living in Toronto. The action begins with the imminent arrival from Russia of 14-year-old Natasha, whose mother is going to marry Mark’s uncle.
A casting call issued on Wednesday noted that the actors must have some ability to speak Russian; some, such as the actress who plays Natasha, with no trace of a Canadian accent. The casting call also notes that there will be scenes containing sexuality and some nudity.
Natasha will be Bezmozgis’s second feature; his first, Victoria Day, premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009, and was nominated for a Genie Award for best original screenplay.
Natasha and Other Stories, published in 2004, was nominated for the Governor General’s Award and won the Toronto Book Award, the Danuta Gleed Award, and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for First Book.
Bezmozgis, who was born in Riga, Latvia, has also published a novel. The Free World, published in 2011, was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Award and the Trillium Prize, and won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award.