Two of cinema’s newest voices join Little Minx

Little Minx
(Courtesy of Little Minx)

Little Minx, a 2022 AdAge A-List Production Company Standout, has signed award-winning directors Kantemir Balagov, 30, and Kira Kovalenko, 32, for branded entertainment, fashion films and music driven projects. The two will work together as a team on all projects.

The Telluride Film Festival was instrumental in relocating them for being outspoken against Russia’s 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 across many other film festivals worldwide.

Balagov’s second feature, Beanpole (2019) won the FIPRESCI (International Film Critics) and Best Director Prizes Un Certain Regard at Cannes, and was also an Oscar shortlist. The film was called “a gut punch” … and “a brilliantly told, deeply moving story about love,” by Manohla Dargis for the New York Times. Balagov’s first feature, Closeness (2017) also won the FIPRESCI Prize Un Certain Regard at Cannes. 

Kovalenko’s second feature, Unclenching the Fists (2021) won the Cannes Film Festival’s Grand Prix Un Certain Regard and was Russia’s official Oscar submission last year. Slate wrote that her “urgent, unsentimental approach” made the film “so potent,” while Indiewire proclaimed Kovalenko “a bold filmmaking voice.” Beanpole and Unclenching the Fists were produced by Alexander Rodyansky’s Non-Stop Productions and renowned Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov, who taught and mentored Kovalenko and Balagov at Kabardino-Balkarian State University’s film school.


REELated: Kantemir Balagov, Director of Russian film, ‘Beanpole’


Beanpole just blew me away,” says 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 Jerome Duboz – who also manages Bong Joon-ho and Ruben Ostlund – called, I jumped. Jerome also introduced me to Kira. Unclenching the Fists transported me immediately, she herself is a force of her own. We are in a unique position to see them collaborate and it is an honor to be at the beginning of their journey together in the U.S.”

A passionate gamer, Balagov recently directed two episodes (including the pilot) for HBO’s “The Last Of Us,” a series based on the video game of the same name, produced by Sony Pictures Television and PlayStation Productions and slated to debut in 2023. He is currently rewriting a feature film project called Monica, originally planned to shoot in his hometown of Nalchik but he is adapting the story for New Jersey. Rodnyansky, who has a first-look deal with Apple, is attached to produce. 


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Reel 360 News wishes Kantemir and Kira the best of luck at Little Minx.

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