Synopsis by Mark Deming
Fate stacks the deck against a plucky but naïve teenager in this drama set in Russia in 1998. Seventeen-year-old Nadezhda (Yelena Velikanova) has dreamed since childhood of a career as a film actress, and she leaves home for Moscow in hopes of studying at the state Institute of Cinematography. A couple that are friends with Nadezhda live in the city, and they offer to let her stay with them. The couple has a nine-month-old daughter, and Nadezhda agrees to baby sit as they move their belongings to a new and larger apartment. But the parents are killed that afternoon in an accident involving a handful of gangsters, and with few friends and fewer prospects in Moscow, Nadezhda finds she's on her own and forced to care for the baby. When the gangsters learn about their victims' background, they try to take the apartment away from Nadezhda and give her an ultimatum -- if she wants to keep the baby out of a horrific state-run orphanage, she'll have to marry mob kingpin Pavel (Andrei Panin).